Over the weekend, the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra played a concert devoted to music associated with Frank Sinatra. The SRJO is one of the world’s finest big bands dedicated to preserving the spirit and substance of the jazz tradition. Drummer Clarence Acox and saxophonist Michael Brockman co-lead the orchestra and have developed admirable projects devoted to works of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Jimmy Heath, among other major figures.
The Sinatra program at The Seasons in Yakima, east of Seattle, might have been subtitled, “And his great arrangers.” The charts were by Nelson Riddle, of course, and by Benny Carter, Thad Jones, Quincy Jones, Neal Hefti, Billy May and the drastically underappreciated Billy Byers. The concert opened with baritone saxophonist Bill Ramsey (pictured anchoring the saxophone section), a veteran of the Ellington and Count Basie bands, soloing on Byers’ arrangement of “All of Me.” It progressed through nearly two hours of Sinatra’s best-known numbers, several of them featuring 22-year-old Danny Quintero, a singer with good time, intonation and phrasing who interprets, rather than imitates Sinatra. There were impressive solos by pianist Randy Halberstadt, trumpeters Mike Van Bebber and Syd Potter, trombonist Dan Marcus and tenor saxophonists Steve Tressler and Tobi Stone.
There is no video of the Saturday night concert. Regrettably, there is little but fragments of the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra on the web, but the Rifftides staff found a complete performance from an earlier concert. The spoken introduction is by Clarence Acox, the trumpet solo by Jay Thomas.
For more about the SRJO, go here.