Conte Candoli, Ollie Mitchell, Ralph Osborn (tp), Herbie Harper, Bob Enevoldsen, Dick Leith (tb), Med Flory (as), Tom Scott (as, cl), Bob Hardaway (ts, ss, cl), Jay Migliori (ts), Bill Hood, Meyer Hirsh (bs, cl), Joyce Collins (p), Alan Estes (vib), Jim Hughart (b), Gene Estes (d, arr, dir), Buddy Childers, Jack Feierman, Hal Espinosa (tp), Joe Burnett, Jay Daversa (tp, flh), Charles Loper, George Bohanon, Bob Edmondson, Dick McQuarry (tb), Lanny Morgan, Bill Perkins (as), Bill Robinson (cl, ts), Pete Jolly (p, org), Norm Jeffries (vib), Al Viola (g), Gene Cherico (b), Roy Burns (d), Dick Grove (arr, dir)
Reference: FSRCD 995
Bar code: 8427328609951
WEST COAST SERIES · Jazz & Swing Orchestras
Rare & Collectible Albums by Unsung Bandleaders
When the dust from the collapse of the Swing Era settled, there were few big bands left that had survived. Yet, because they loved the swinging drive of a full-on jazz orchestra, a series of adventurous and unsung bandleaders optimistically organized some fine, but short-lived, new orchestras that were packed with jazz and studio musicians, holding the flag of Swing high.
Gene Estes (1931-1996) had a richly varied and successful musical career as a drummer, vibraphonist, composer and arranger, writing for, and performing equally well with small groups and big bands. His career went through several stages, not the least of which was his attempt to keep a big band going in Hollywood during the ‘60s. He organized it in the fall of 1964 to play his own compositions and arrangements. The first iteration lasted only one year, but in 1966 he reorganized it and was able to keep it active until the end of 1968. “Over the years we’ve had many different good players and always a good band,” Estes mentioned, but then he also recognized that this particular version of the band was his favorite. This is the only recording that exists of this magnificent big band.
Dick Grove (1927-1998) was a rare and unique composer-arranger-conductor, and just as Clare Fischer, Gil Evans and other arrangers of renown, he had to wait until he was in his thirties before he could make any impact on the jazz scene. This album proves he was an inventive, polished arranger, who scored a wide sampling of contemporary musical styles beyond the then accepted boundaries of jazz. All are Grove originals, in a program that jumps from straight-ahead driving tunes, to bossa nova grooves, blues and jazz rock pieces. The interesting performances are spiced by the brilliant solo work of saxophonists Lanny Morgan, Bill Perkins, Bob Hardaway and Bill Hood; trumpeters Joe Burnett and Jay Daversa; pianist and organist Pete Jolly; trombonist George Bohanon; and the brilliant drummer Roy Burns (1935-2018), who adds to the music his masterful technique and rhythmical drive.
"The LA studios of the 60s and 70s were filled with swing and mainstream jazz musicians earning some nice dough, but also looking for either hip venues like Donte’s or Concert By The Sea for some gigs, or maybe getting on some creative album sessions. Here are a couple of big band sessions that must have made the studio studs cheer for joy.
Drummer Gene Estes (1931-1996) puts together an impressive big band for a March 23, 1968 session that includes boppers like Conte Candoli/tp, Bob Enevoldsen/vtb and Med Flory/as , but also the up and comers like future LA Express man Tom Scott/as-cl and Jim Hughart/b. The nine tune include hard hitters with a big sound, such as Estes’ own ‘Sharly My Boy” and the bold “Sweet Lum;” while featuring Joyce Collins on the nifty read of Jimmy Heath’s “Big ‘P’”. Alan Estes’ vibes work well on the moody “Besame Mucho” and the woodwinds are as breezy as a drive on PCH on “D.A.V.” Driving with the top down.
Dick Grove (1927-1998) leads a band filled with some of LA’s finest in a more “contemporary” sound in this 1973 session. The ensemble includes Buddy Childers/tp, boppers Lanny Morgan/Bill Perkins/as, Sinatra alumnus Al Viola/g and Pete Jolly/p-keys. Gene Cherico plays a Fender bass on the funky soul’d “Good ‘N Plenty” and “Ain’t No Doubt About It” while the team sways on a 6/8 groove on “Dead Ringer”. Roy Burns supplies a hip intro to “Big, Bad and Beautiful” and the team goes on a magnificent journey on the 10 minute opus “Trilogy For A Boy”. This music sounds fresher than most “modern” charts that pass for today’s big band jazz."
George W. Harris (December 7, 2020)
"[...] One can only admire Grove's sweeping and deeply thoughtful arranging style. The sound is so sophisticated and ambitious, it's as if he was treating the orchestra like a palette of paint and applying it to a massive canvas. A shame an orchestra can't be assembled today to play this music live. Perhaps in Europe."
Marc Myers (December 2, 2020)
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