Other Happy Birthdays
Orrin Keepnews, b.Mar. 2, 1923.  Writer (A Pictorial History of Jazz: People and Places
    From New Orleans to Modern Jazz) and record producer.
Rocky Rockwell, b.Mar. 2, 1923.  Trumpeter - vocalist with Welk '51-'62.
Harry Prime, b.Mar. 5, 1920.  Vocalist with Brooks '47; Fina '47; T. Dorsey '47; Flanagan
Dick Hyman, b.Mar. 8, 1927.  Pianist with Goodman '50 / '55 / '85-'86.
Keely Smith, b.Mar. 9, 1932.  Vocalist with Prima '49-'61.
Donn Trenner, b.Mar. 10, 1927.  Pianist with Fio Rito '43-'45; Morrow '47?; Brown '54-'56 /
Quincy Jones, b.Mar. 14, 1933.  Trumpeter with Hampton '51-'53 and Gillespie '56; and
    composer (Basie '58 Rat Race / The Midnight Sun Never Sets / Meet B.B.).
George Avakian, b.Mar. 15, 1919.  Record producer.
Bob Wilber, b.Mar. 15, 1928.  Clarinetist - soprano sax with Hackett '57; Goodman '58.
Larry Elgart, b.Mar. 20, 1922.  Saxophonist with Byrne and brother Les Elgart; and
    bandleader with Les and on his own.
Bill Hughes, b.Mar. 28, 1930.  Trombonist with Basie '54-'57 / '63-'84 and leader of the
    Basie Orch. '03-'10.

Lou Colombo, 84, d.Mar. 3, 2012, traffic accident.  Trumpeter w/ Shaw Orch-Johnson.
Warren Luening, 70, d.Mar. 19, 2012, complications of cancer.  Trumpeter w/Welk '58-'60.
Sonny Igoe, 88, d.Mar. 28, 2012, heart attack.  Drummer w/Goodman '48-49 / '62; Herman

Not One But Two PBS-TV Big Band Specials
    The music of one of the big band legends is celebrated in a new PBS-TV "American Masters" program, "Cab Calloway: Sketches," now being shown around the country.
    According to Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times, the biography, directed by Gail Levin, is wrapped "in a clever device with a sweet payoff: she periodically shows footage of a painting of Calloway as it takes shape.  At the end, the painting comes to animated life — a fitting metaphor for what this film does for Calloway himself."
    In the program, Cab's grandson, C. Calloway Brooks, boasts, “There was nobody in his band who could play out of their horn more jazz than he could get out of his throat."
    And critic Gary Giddins comments, "“When I look back now and think of middle-class whites hi-de-ho-ing as Cab Calloway’s singing about cocaine, it’s like surreal . . . How clueless was white America?”
    I watched the show and enjoyed it.  Calloway was full of energy!
    The other new PBS program, "Big Band Vocalists," is in their "My Music" series, which has covered many genres over the last couple of decades, and premieres nationally on the 3rd of this month.  Compared to the Calloway special, this one is a simpler production, with co-hosts Peter Marshall and Nick Clooney introducing vintage film clips of such one-time big band vocalists as Perry Como, Doris Day, and Peggy Lee over the course of one hour.

In-Print and / or Online
Bob Eschliman.  "Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum hosts birthday party for legendary band
    leader," Clarinda [ IA ] Herald-Journal, Mar. 2, 2012.  About 75 members of the Clarinda
    community observed Miller's birthday, which was March 1st.
Thomas Leskin.  "Les Brown Festival celebrates composer's 100 birthday," [ Pottsville,
    PA ] Republican-Herald, Mar. 25, 2012.  Leskin stated that "the street in Reinerton near
    the house where Brown was born, perpendicular to Grand Avenue, was changed to Les
    Brown Lane."
Greg Thomas.  "Big-band leader Stan Kenton gets centennial tribute with all his hits,"
    New York Daily News, Mar. 1, 2012.  The Manhattan School of Music's Jazz Orchestra
    will pay tribute to Kenton the night of the 2nd.
Charles A. Sengstock, Jr.  "The Aragon Ballroom: Survivor of Past Glory Days," [Chicago
    Local 10-208 of the American Federation of Musicians ] Intermezzo, Mar. 2012 / Vol.
    72 No.3, pp.14-15.   Sengstock recalls King and Jurgens, among other bandleaders.

Big Bands In-Person
Count Basie Orchestra directed by Dennis Mackrel.  Mar. 28, Kennewick High School,
    Kennewick, WA; Mar. 29-31, Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA.
Harry James Orchestra directed by Fred Radke.  Mar. 24, Washington, D.C.
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Nick Hilscher.  Mar. 2-3, with The Buffalo Symphony
    Orchestra, Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, NY; Mar. 4, Genesee Community College,
    Batavia, NY; Mar. 7, East Haven High School, East Haven, CT; Mar. 8, The Carlyle Club,
    Alexandria, VA; Mar. 10, Knights of Columbus Hall, Batesville, IN; Mar. 11, Midland
    Theatre, Newark, OH; Mar. 15-16, Pickney Hall, Sun City Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC;
    Mar. 17, Jabez Sanford Harden Performing Arts Center, Evans, GA; Mar. 20, Isothermal
    Community College, Spindale, NC; Mar. 22, Copper Creek Event Center, Cincinnati, OH;
    Mar. 23, private, Chicago, IL; Mar. 24, Ohnward Fine Arts Center, Maquoketa, IA;
    Mar. 25, Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, IL; Mar. 27, Metropolis
    Performing Arts Centre, Arlington Heights, IL; Mar. 28, Indiana State University, Terre
    Haute, IN; Mar. 31, Sunnybrook Ballroom, Pottstown, PA.

New Compact Discs
Louis Armstrong.  "Live at Basin Street," Mr. Music 9003.  2-CD set with four programs
    from 1955. They were "originally recorded by NBC and stockpiled to be used later in their
    popular weekly series.  They are appearing here for the first time."
Will Bradley.  "I'll Remember," Sounds of YesterYear [ UK ] DSOY885.  More of Bradley's
    jazz octet recordings done in 1959 for SESAC.  This is a companion volume to "Ridin'
    a Riff" (DSOY819).
Benny Goodman.  "Live Coast to Coast," Mr. Music 7029.  Material from 1945-46, including
    Kings Of Jazz Series, Part 3; an MBS broadcast from Meadowbrook Gardens in Culver
    City, CA; a V-Disc recording session;  AFRS Magic Carpet #220 from Meadowbrook
    Gardens; and  AFRS Supper Club #262.
Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Ray McKinley.  "Dancing Time," Montpellier [ UK ]
    MONT CD086.  Collects 24 recordings made in 1961-62 for the RCA Victor LPs "Glenn
    Miller Time" (LSP-2436) and "Echoes of Glenn Miller" (LSP-2519).
Various artists.  "The Best Years of Our Lives: 1946," Sounds of YesterYear [ UK ] DSOY
    886.  Another volume in the series, this time including Beneke, Kaye, Monroe, Kyser,
    Brown, and more.

Sneak Peek
    In next month's "News," the challenges in creating a stage musical about one of the big band giants.

go to Big Band Library homepage

The big bands are back
in a new and exciting way!
MARCH 2012
compiled by Music Librarian

Celebrating the Sound of Renown
   Fans who want to observe the 100th anniversary of a big band legend's birth are invited to attend "The Les Brown Centennial Weekend" on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th of this month, near where he was born in Pennsylvania.
   Special guests scheduled to be present are his son, Les Brown Jr., who now directs the Band of Renown in public appearances; his grandson, Jeff Marsh; two of his former instrumentalists, Rusty Higgins (alto saxophone) and Don Clarke (trumpeter); and David Miller, host of National Public Radio's "Swingin' Down the Lane."
Les Brown, ca.1941
photo by James J. Kriegsmann
    According to Gene Lees, author of Arranging the Score (New York City: Cassell, 1999), Les Brown's bands were always "in such exquisite taste" and that one of the keys "was the writing."  So he asked Brown if that was because, besides being the leader and an alto saxophonist, he was an arranger.
    "I think that had something to do with it," Les said.  "I always made sure that I hired arrangers who were a hell of a lot better than I am!  And I sort of confine my arranging to vocal backgrounds.  I did a lot when Doris Day was in the band.  I know my limitations.  I write a jazz chart every now and then.  Sometimes it comes off.  If it doesn't, it comes out of the repertoire the same night we play it the first time.  If I don't like it, I say, 'Hand it in!'  But sometimes I keep 'em and still play 'em."
    Personally, I always thought that one of his band's very best arrangements was the one that Les did himself of How High the Moon, which they recorded for Reader's Digest in 1967.   
    Activities during "The Les Brown Centennial Weekend" will include remembrances of Brown, a display of memorabilia about his life and career, and a trivia contest.
    It gets underway on the night of the 23rd with a dinner and dance at a restaurant in Lykens, PA, an all-day celebration with several local bands, family, friends, and alumni at Williams Valley High School in Tower City, PA on the 24th, and a non-denominational service with sacred music by local musicians on the 25th.
    For more information, view the website townofrenown.org, with whose courtesy the Centennial Banner to the right is shown.