Awakened by the blast of two mighty big bands 1

bigbandThere’s a resurgence of big-band jazz and that’s a good thing.

We enjoyed two recent forays into the reemergence of this distinctly American art form. On Saturday June 1, Grammy-nominated Kim Richmond Concert Jazz Orchestra blasted the rafters off Upstairs at Vitello’s, the chic second-floor jazz outlet in Studio City. The occasion was the celebration of the release of their Latest CD Artistry, a Tribute to Legendary Big Band Leader Stan Kenton.

Saxophone soloist Kim Richmond tamed a raucous 24-piece orchestra via expansive, tailored instrumentation for five woodwinds, four trumpets, three tenor trombones, two French horns, Latin percussion. Cacophony morphed into a free-swinging exploration of symphonic color and texture.

The evening paid homage to “Kentonesque” jazz, the size and scope of the master’s kinetic orchestration, rightfully known to music historians as the original “Wall of Sound.”

God, it was great. Sample of Stan Kenton’s “The Peanut Vendor” here:

Kim Richmond conductor leaderGrammy-nominated Kim Richmond has been around for many years playing with the likes of Stan Kenton, Clare Fischer, Louie Bellson, Lalo Schifrin, Bob Florence, Les Brown, Bill Holman and more. Richmond also arranged for many years for Schifrin, Buddy Rich, and Ernie Watts.

A superb follow-up, this past Saturday night, saw Richmond sitting in on saxophone with the Phil Norman Tentet, a “mini-version” of a jazz big band. Norman and his cluster of veteran players journeyed, progressively, into melting mode in a satisfying set at Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood. Rolling out standards like “Tenderly,” and “Nature Boy,” the band also jumped and jived to a hopped-up “Surrey With the Fringe on Top.”

The big band experience is so rich and textured — it’s like watching the drippings of a painting meld together as strong individuals give over their sound — and their ego — to the group. A huge treat for the audience.


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One comment on “Awakened by the blast of two mighty big bands

  1. Elizabeth Ince Jun 24,2013 8:58 pm

    I will never understand why people malign the 1950s. There was so much great art across the board — music, dance and theater. Thanks for this.

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