Symphonic “jazz” compositions, big bands and holiday blasts

The American Composers Orchestra readings of short symphonic works by jazz-oriented composers which I wrote of in my CityArts column and posted about here are now available to hear, thanks to Lara Pelligrinelli at NPR’s A Blog Supreme. The 23rd annual BMI/New York Jazz Orchestra concert, featuring “New Works for Big Band” and the naming (not yet publicized) of the winner of the 11th Annual Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize. I’m looking for a third item regarding really large scale opportunities for jazz composers (and listeners), but the student competitions, festival appearances, and other emanations of a tradition which by the logic of the marketplace ought to be pretty much over are too plentiful to start to mention (ok, here’s one: Savannah’s 6th Annual Patriotic Big Band Salute on July 4 starring Jeremy Davis and the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra).

Not that symphonic compositions, writings for big band and holiday blow-outs are all the same, but I idly wonder if continued interest in massive ensembles is a result of multitudes of jazz-college graduates looking for the comforts of company. Even Duke Ellington asked Will Big Bands Ever Come Back? in 1965, as the original title for an album which included this fine rendition of the American anthem by George Gershwin, “Rhapsody In Blue” (thanks to A Blog Supreme’s David Brent Johnson for the heads up on this). 


Too mellow? Then here’s a bigger bang — by one of Ellington’s loyalist acolytes, Charles Mingus, as played by the Mingus Big Band, winners of the Jazz Journalists Association’s 2011 Award for Large Ensemble of the Year. 
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  1. says

    I think I can safely publicize on your blog that Jim Saltzman won the competition prize at the BMI/New York Orchestra concert on Friday night. I was playing in the band, so I heard the news (and played his piece) firsthand.
    HM: Thanks Deanna — I think BMI just hadn’t got the word up on its website yet.