Composer, saxophonist, bandleader and author Bill Kirchner is the subject of two new articles that recognize his decades of creativity. One piece is in the new issue of Allegro, the magazine of New York’s American Federation of Musicians local 802. The other is in the Canadian bassist Steve Wallace’s admired weblog. In his extensive evaluation of Kirchner’s career, Wallace writes,
I was left puzzling over two questions. One, how in the world could one man, no matter how multi-talented, find the time and energy to wear so many jazz hats and wear them so well? And two, why hadn’t I heard more of his music, or know more about it? I knew he played saxophone and did some arranging but mostly I knew of Bill through his liner notes, in particular the extensive ones he wrote for the Mosaic box set of the Verve recordings of Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band. In fact, as I would come to find out, I’d read much more along these lines by Bill than I realized.
To see all of the first installment of Wallace’s appreciation, go here.
Here a bit of Todd Bryant Weeks’ Allegro article about Kirchner:
Kirchner led his nonet for over 20 years and recorded five albums. “Of everything I’ve done, that’s what I’m most proud of,” he tells me. “With that band, we showed what was possible with a medium-sized jazz band. In terms of colors, we had lots of doubles. We played everything from straight-ahead to Brazilian to funk to avant garde. It was really an orchestral concept of a medium-sized band. Most medium-sized jazz bands are what I call ‘nine-piece quintets.’ You know, it’s like an orchestrated theme, a bunch of solos, and D.S. al Fine. This was way more than that. There was lots of soloing, but it was integrated into an orchestral framework.”
For all of Weeks’ article, click here.
Now, let’s hear a sample of the work that generated the praise. From the Kirchner Nonet’s Lifeline album on the Jazzheads label, here is the leader’s arrangement of pianist Joe Sample’s “Fancy Dance.” Chip Jackson is the bass soloist. Bud Burridge solos on flugelhorn, Kenny Berger on baritone sax and Dick Oatts on soprano sax.
It is good to see a hard-working and talented creative artist get a bit of the recognition he has earned.
(The earlier post of this piece had errors in the solo rundown on “Fancy Dance.” It is now correct.—DR)