- Al Hirt
- Bill Chase
- Boss Brass
- Buddy Rich
- Chuck Findley
- Classical or symphony pops
- Dave Grusin
- Doc Severinsen
- Don Jacoby
- Gene Hall
- John Haynie
- Leon Breeden
- Louis Armstrong
- Maynard Ferguson
- Maynard Ferguson
- My favorites
- My videos on Youtube
- Natalie Cole
- North Texas One O'Clock
- Rare recording
- Rehearsal bands
- Rodney Booth
- Sherman Jazz Museum
- The artists
- Woody Herman
- WWC Jr.
When we decided to have a jazz museum, all we had was a building, a large room full of antiques, and about 400 records I had bought over the years. The antiques would have to be sold off to make room. This was the top floor of the building, and we already had another floor below that was full of antiques. A record album museum was exciting to me because I had recently learned from our daughter that album covers were going to be a thing of the past.
Our daughter was beginning to download songs and albums onto her iPod. I was horrified to think that she would have no hard copy album covers and more importantly, no liner notes. The liner notes tell you who composed the music, who did the arrangements, who played on the tracks, when it was recorded and where, not to mention the tunes and the time for each tune. In addition there might be photos and information about the band, or the recording session. Part of my love of getting a new album was reading the liner notes as I listened to the record. The history of jazz is written on the backs of record albums, not just in books. The cover art was also interesting because each album was different, and a photo of the band might be there, also. Liner notes and cover art were about to be history going forward!
We decided to have a record album museum, but no CDs because we had no room for them. That meant the museum would only contain music up to about 1989, when CDs took over for good.
The museum needed a curator to design the look for the walls, paint, albums, etc. We chose our daughter, not knowing what a talent she had for that type of thing. We couldn’t have found a better curator. It is interesting to me that my path in life was to put together a museum, and I was given just the right kids to help me do that. She has done a fantastic job, as you can see in the photos. Our son’s story will come later in the process. The early photos are from early 2008.
William Alonzo Anderson, known as Cat Anderson (September 12, 1916-April 29, 1981), had a birthday two days ago. Cat became famous in the Duke Ellington Orchestra and was probably the best high note trumpet player in history.
I’ll never forget hearing the Ellington band in Ft. Worth in 1971, probably near the end of Cat’s tenure with the band. He was amazing with the upper register, but what stayed with me just as much was that he slept on the band stand sitting in his chair when not playing. I had never seen anyone do that before, or since. I wondered how he knew when to wake up and play, and I also wondered how he didn’t get fired. I leaned later in life that Duke was willing to put up with just about anything from his musicians–he was very loyal.
I don’t really remember much else about the concert that day. Cat’s playing was so impressive that I still can see and hear him playing “Satin Doll”. It was so effortless for him to do what very few could even come close to doing. I did read later in life, also, that Cat practiced four hours a day, both on off days and on performance days. I also heard from friends that he was very secretive about what size mouthpiece he played. I was told he would always take his mouthpiece with him on breaks. He was only 64 when he died. Now that I am 64 I can say that he died very young!
I have always loved big bands. When we started the museum, I wanted it to be a big band museum. There is no other musical group that can create the excitement, power, and feel of a big band. When I say power, I don’t mean volume, I mean everyone hitting the note at exactly the same time to create an explosion of sound. To achieve that, everyone in the band actually has to back off their volume and listen to everyone else. So, it’s not at all about sheer volume at all.
Listen to this example of how it’s done when it’s done right. It starts with the rhythm section playing perfectly together and laying down the tempo and feel. They call it a walking bass line because it has the feel of someone walking down the street. And I mean a cool dude walking down the street!
The horn players also have to be aware of the time and feel, and above all they have to listen to make that happen. When you are playing in a band with a great sense of feel and time like this one, you actually feel like the band is one unit and you are just riding along with that unit. You lock in with everyone else and the band takes on a life of it’s own. You feel like you worked your whole life to get to those few moments.
Also, listen to the ensemble after the trumpet solo. It’s like a Corvette driving 20 mph down the street. It’s the most powerful thing in the world to have all that power and not use it. Everyone knows it’s there, and everyone just stares at the car as it drives past. You know it’s going to unleash the power at some point, but you don’t exactly know where or when. Then when the power of the band does let loose, it is amazing to see that much power with so much control and yet, still contain the feel and musicality. It’s not just noise and chaos like most people think when they think of big bands. It’s only chaos if the musicians aren’t listening to each other properly. Every idea we are taught in classical music of balance, blend, tone, dynamics, etc. have to be included in big band jazz, too. The result is that we get a feel and a power you can’t get with any other size, or style of music. A group larger than a big band loses feel, and the ability to follow the lead players and rhythm section. The precision of this band in this recording will be lost. A group smaller than a big band won’t have the power of 15 horn players.
Sammy Nestico wrote for the Count Basie band, and this is in the style of Basie. To me, this is as good as it gets for big band playing. A century of jazz evolution brought us to this recording, which was actually done in the late 80’s, but is so good it is timeless.
They make it sound very easy and simple on this recording. That’s the misunderstanding of jazz—-it sounds easy. These are some of the top musicians in L.A. and they have years of experience. Most musicians, including many professionals, have never experienced playing in a band this good. You have to work yourself to the top to play with musicians who can achieve this quality, and even when you do, you don’t always get to play great arrangements like this.
Sammy is one of the best big band writers in the business, using some of the best big band musicians in the world on this recording. It’s rare to get that combination these days on a cd, and Sammy knew he wouldn’t make money on a cd like this. He wanted to do it and others like it, because he loves big bands as much as many of us do. He wanted to show how it’s done when done right.