Tunes from the swing era bring to mind an optimism, and sense of energetic playfulness that is sometimes rare in more modern music. Saturday, the SPOKANE JAZZ ORCHESTRA will celebrate that spirit with a tribute to Tommy Dorsey, one of swing's great musicians and bandleaders.
"For the last four to five years, we've been doing tributes to the main names in the history of jazz," explains Dan Keberle, conductor of the Spokane Jazz Orchestra. "Once a year, I like to do one name from the swing era." With the current make-up of the orchestra, legendary trombonist Tommy Dorsey was a natural. "The trombone section in the orchestra is so strong," Keberle says.
Joining the SJO will be musical husband and wife team Ernie and Judi Carlson, who moved to the area only a few years ago. "He's such a fine trombonist, and she sang with all these great swing bands. She's a really wonderful singer," says Keberle. "They've already become a big part of the music scene here."
This may be a bit of an understatement of the pair's resume. Judi Carlson has sung with legends such as Les Brown, who died recently. And Ernie Carlson is described as a "trombone virtuoso." Keberle concurs: "When he plays the trombone, if you close your eyes, you'll think you're listening to Tommy Dorsey."
This may be especially true during this concert because many of the arrangements are the exact ones Dorsey's orchestra used. "I'm very excited about some of the big Tommy Dorsey hits we're doing," Keberle says. "And I'm excited about some of these really authentic arrangements.'' These include "Song of India," "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," "Marie" and "Boogie Woogie."
But Dorsey's contribution went far beyond some great arrangements and entertaining band leadership. Often in jazz and swing, the trumpet or the saxophone takes the lead, and the trombone plays "second fiddle" so to speak. But Keberle is excited to challenge audiences to break out of this stereotype. "The trombone is usually the one in the middle of the band plugging along, but it is also a great solo instrument." Tommy Dorsey was one of the first musicians to put the trombone in the limelight. "He really paved the way," says Keberle. "He showed the world what could be done with the trombone."
With this in mind, the concert will also feature the musicians who followed in the footsteps of Dorsey's pioneering work on this often forgotten instrument. "We're playing some things that were inspired by Tommy Dorsey,'' says Keberle. Dave Stultz and Rob Tapper, two of SJO's trombonists, will play some of the music of Carl Fontana and J.J. Johnson. "They'll be playing solos that follow the legacy of Dorsey," Keberle says. "And because we got into this trombone theme, our four trombonists are doing three tunes written for four trombones and a rhythm section."
For Keberle, this performance has a lot to offer audiences. "It'll be a great time for people who are into the nostalgic sound of swing, and a great concert for people who want to take a look at the historical roots of this music," Keberle explains. But the big attraction, he says, is a chance to see this familiar instrument in a new light, "If you don't believe a trombone can play anything a trumpet or sax can play, come hear, because they can."
& & & lt;i & The SJO's Tribute to Tommy Dorsey is at The Met on Saturday, March 17, at 8 pm. Tickets: $19.50; $17.50 for seniors, students and military; $16.50 for SJS members. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &
by Mike Corrigan
British bluesman JOHN MAYALL has, in the many incarnations of his band, the Bluesbrakers and as a soloist, collaborated with literally hundreds of musicians since he first made a name for himself on the London blues scene of the early-1960s. Musicians that would go on to alter the course of rock and roll forever, such as Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, all apprenticed under Mayall who helped legitimize blues-based rock at a time when the sub genre was sorely under-appreciated. It may be stretching things a bit to say, but were it not for Mayall's eye for talent and willingness to mentor junior musicians, the rock bands we know today as the Yardbirds, Cream, Fleetwood Mac and the Rolling Stones might have sounded very different. Some might never have formed in the first place. Mayall comes to The Met next Thursday, March 22.
And therein lies the irony that has caused music writers (and surely Mayall himself) no small amount of frustration. For though he exhibits an encyclopedic knowledge of American blues -- from the Mississippi Delta sounds of Robert Johnson to the Chicago stylings of Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy -- the recognition and praise for his own work has been slow in coming and is dwarfed by that heaped on many of the performers who earned their chops under his tutelage. Though unquestionably influential, if not pivotal to the genesis of '60s British blues rock, Mayall has often been overlooked as a performer, interpreter and writer.
The Bluesbreakers album, released in 1966, features Mayall and a young, incredibly inspired Eric Clapton cranking out straight, 12-bar Chicago-style blues with an amazing amount of conviction and soul. Clapton ascended to stardom on the success of this album and exited the Bluesbreakers to expand his evolving blues-rock leanings in the Yardbirds.
Throughout the remainder of the '60s, Mayall would rotate players in and out of his band with dizzying frequency. After Clapton's departure, Mayall recruited guitarist Peter Green and bassist John McVie to record A Hard Road before the two left to form Fleetwood Mac with Mick Fleetwood (who also played with Mayall briefly). Crusade from 1967 features future Rolling Stone guitarist Mick Taylor.
As the decade drew to a close, Mayall began experimenting with his basic blues style, incorporating horns and making forays into progressive rock, jazz and fusion. Some of his best work from the period, however, can be found on albums such as Blues From Laurel Canyon (recorded with L.A. session men after Mayall had relocated to the States in 1969) and the acoustic live album, The Turning Point.
Since then, Mayall has continued to record and perform, reaching out to generation after generation, inspiring thousands to pick up six strings and communicate through music.
Ultimately, Mayall's place in music history may well be defined by the work he has done to popularize the blues all over the world. As a troubadour and tireless proponent of a musical style that has since weaved its way into the very fabric of the popular music consciousness, accolades are not only warranted, but fitting.
& & & lt;i & John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers perform at The Met on Thursday, March 22, at 8 pm. Tickets: $19.50. Call: 325-SEAT. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &
She's a B.O.M.
by Mike Corrigan
The latest musical concoction whipped up by noted self-empowerment-through-performing folk rocker, TIANA GREGG is a new monthly music series at the Blue Spark whose mission is "to bring women out of the woodwork and onto the stage." B.O.M. (Babes Of Music) will attempt to draw women musicians who normally would never consider baring their souls or venting their angst before a live audience to climb up on the stage and let it rip.
Gregg herself is one of the leading figures on the Spokane alt-rock scene. She's been performing her gutsy, honest brand of folk rock Americana (both solo and in various band configurations) for the past seven years in local coffee houses, bars, theaters -- heck, anyplace with a few extra square feet and a handful of impressionable live music lovers. She was also the lightning rod that initially brought life to the Blue Spark's wildly successful Monday evening monster open mike night.
Now on the fourth Thursday of every month, the Blue Spark will host the women of the B.O.M. Each B.O.M. event will feature four different female-based acts that will perform in consecutive half-hour slots. All performers will receive an exclusive "I got BOM'd at the Blue Spark" T-shirt, a couple of free beers and the chance at a moment of catharsis (well, if not that, then at least a healthy 30 minutes of fame).
The blast off party for the B.O.M. music series will be held on March 22 beginning at 8 pm and will feature Tiana, the eclectic rock of Bee (formerly of Bee and Camille), a spoken word set by Kristi White and the boomer pop of the Trailer Park Girls (none of which are women, per se). Donations collected at each show will go to support Women's Services at the Spokane AIDs Network.
So get off your duffs, women -- and rock. As for the rest of you, get bent and get BOM'd.
& & & lt;i & The B.O.M. Women's Music Series kicks off at the Blue Spark on Thursday, March 22, at 8 pm. No cover. Call: 838-5787. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &