Jazz Forever’s First Performance
I have mentioned a few times on this blog that I’ve been commissioned to write music for a new band called Jazz Forever. It was the writing work for that band which I was referring to when I said, several months ago, that I was going to have to cut way back on my blogging time. I was hired to write a considerable number of songs for the band to perform and record.
Just to demonstrate how much I have cut back on my blogging, it’s worth mentioning that the performance was almost three weeks ago. I am only now able to spend the time wrapping up this post.
Well, good news! We had our first performance with this new band on Sunday afternoon (1/27) with great success. The music I wrote was executed almost perfectly by the musicians while the audience and dancers seemed to enjoy it quite well.
A Personal Milestone
This is a personal milestone for me. That may seem odd at first because I’ve been writing arrangements for bands since I was in high school. When people ask, I tell them that I’ve written over 300 original compositions, which is a lot, but I’ve written so many arrangements that I couldn’t possibly count them all. So then, how is this a personal milestone?
Well, this is a personal milestone for me because it represents the culmination of all my writing skills. I knew there would be little or no rehearsal time. I needed to write the music in a way that would minimize mistakes, using conventions I have acquired over the past thirty years through trial and error.
I’m not taking anything away from the wonderful performance of the musicians themselves. They did a terrific job. But I know from experience that it doesn’t matter how good the musicians are if the music is written in a way that makes everything difficult for them. It is possible for an inexperienced (or inconsiderate) writer to “trip” even the best musicians in the world.
So I was very pleased when each one of the tunes I wrote for the premier performance of Jazz Forever came off without any major problems. And yes, I do consider that a milestone in my career. This performance was proof that my writing style works the way I always thought it would.
The Music of Ben Pokluda
Jazz Forever is a project spearheaded by Mr. Ben Pokluda. It is his desire to assemble a band of musicians that can perform the early jazz that he enjoys, then turn on a dime and play music appropriate for ballroom dancing.
When Mr. Pokluda’s website goes live, I will be sure to post a link to it so that you can read his story there. I have heard him share his adventure a few times and it is heart warming and uplifting.
About the Writing
Most of the writing I’ve been doing so far has been transcriptions of early jazz recordings. The writing has been challenging and rewarding both. I have plans for a separate blog post that explains the challenges in detail, but for now, I just wanted to say that those challenges have been greatly welcomed. I have grown so much as a musician over the past nine months and it’s all because of the work I’ve been doing on these charts.
Most of what I have left to write are more of the ballroom pieces. What I’ve been enjoying most in doing the writing for this project is the memories of my father who used to listen to most of these tunes. I have a vivid memory of a time when my father drove me from one end of the state of Pennsylvania to the other. Much of the music I am writing for this band was on the radio that night as we drove along 322. Those a precious memories I have of my father.
The band goes into the recording studio this week where we will be working on a CD project. I will let everyone know when the CDs are available. This is an exciting time for me and I look forward to working more with Mr. Pokluda and the wonderful band he has put together.
Here are the members of the band from the launch performance:
Eddie Lewis – TrumpetGeorge Chase – Trumpet
Ed Lowe – Trombone
Doug Wright – Alto and Clarinet
Martin Langford – Tenor and Clarinet
Gary Zugar – Bari and Clarinet
Mike Owen – Guitar and Banjo
Gilbert Sideño – Piano
Thomas Helton – Bass and Tuba
Bobby Adams – Drums