Subscribe now for free! JAZZed. CLICK HERE to signup now!

25 of the Best Big Band Recordings of All Time!

Jazzed Magazine • Guest EditorialMarch 2009 • March 26, 2009

Big bands are, for many college and university jazz programs in the U.S. Canada, the cornerstone of the curriculum. They are also one of the primary recruiting tools for most jazz programs and for many Schools of Music. Jazz programs in schools like the University of North Texas, the University of Miami, McGill University, Florida International University, the University of Southern California, the Manhattan School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana, the University of North Florida, the University of South Florida, and many others depend highly upon the quality of their top large jazz ensembles.

Essential skills ranging from sight-reading (in a variety of styles), section playing, woodwind doubles for saxophonists, endurance for brass players, playing accurately and in tune, successfully performing a broad range of repertoire, and performing with world-class artists are all developed at least to some extent via the program’s large ensemble (depending on, among other factors, the overall quality of the program and its players). In many cases, campus big bands provide the most honest “real-world” preparation of any higher education ensemble. This is not in anyway intended to deride the benefits of performing in a traditional ensemble (whatever that might mean in the 21st Century essentially I’m referring to wind/concert/symphonic bands, marching bands, new-music ensembles, and other non-jazz groups), but merely that it’s the preparation provided by the large jazz ensemble that is closest to the ‘nature of the beast’ in today’s world of the commercial performing artist – be it in the studio, in a pit band, with a club-date/corporate band, on tour, or on a ship.

Addressing a Lack of Awareness
One of the many shortcomings I’ve seen in young jazz performance majors over the past 16 years is a complete lack of awareness regarding classic (modern) big band repertoire (primarily post-WWII). Modern big band repertoire is an essential area of the jazz canon one that can successfully encourage, develop, and enhance a plethora of skills integral to successful performance in today’s jazz and commercial music idioms.

Young players today have a serious hole in their knowledge of these great ensembles, and one of the best ways to fill it is to provide a concise recommended (or better yet required) list of recordings. This big band discography is a good solid foundation from which to build and with only 25 recordings on the list and 39 CDs (or LPs) in total any jazz student can easily cover it in a couple months or so.

All of these recordings stand up to repeated listening, so don’t be surprised if you find your students (and you!) listening to many of them again and again. These recordings are excellent learning tools for every section in your band. There are dozens of great solos for all instruments to be transcribed here, and for aspiring arrangers there is an entire arsenal of great ideas for solos, shout choruses, intros, endings, and background figures not to mention everything from straight-ahead orchestration techniques to what’s on the cutting edge today. These recordings could (and should) be considered must-haves before, during, and after each and every jazz composition/arranging course your current program offers.

Let’s look at this logically for a moment. Many of the teachers in the field of jazz studies today who range in age from 40-65 are fortunate to have seen most if not all of these great bands in person sometimes even four or five times or more. Young players entering college or university today were born in or around 1990 and therefore have not been brought up on these bands and certainly were not fortunate enough to see most of them perform live. In fact, only five of the bands on this list (out of seventeen) actually toured significantly after 1960. The majority of them have been and many are still based in either Los Angeles or New York.

It is only through the study of these recordings that the whole concept/idea of “big band music” and all that encompasses can be safely and securely implanted deep into the conscience of today’s young jazz students, where it will do the most good.

These bands are listed in alphabetical order. The author recognizes the fact that some readers may disagree (even vehemently) with some or even many of the choices here, and that’s perfectly okay. The author’s criteria are simple: professional orchestras only no colleges or universities (even though many of them have put out some really great recordings), no “pick-up bands,” no “ghost bands,” and no “nostalgia bands.” That’s it and away we go!

Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band – Roadtime: For anyone who has ever tried to play the charts of Toshiko Akiyoshi can attest, a certain level of reverence and respect for the L.A. musicians she wisely engaged is an afterthought. The best of the best are featured here on this double album with Bobby Shew, Dick Spencer, Bill Reichenbach, and all the rest at the top of their game. The band plays through this material with tremendous accuracy and excitement and the soloists are consistently excellent. Bobby Shew’s lead trumpet playing (and flugelhorn soloing) is a master-class unto itself. Tuning Up, Warning, Roadtime Shuffle are terrific overall. Recorded in 1976, this album represents some of the best big band playing of its day.

Count Basie – Atomic Basie: The collaborations of the Count Basie Orchestra and composer/arranger Neal Hefti produced some memorable music over the years. Classics like “Splanky,” “Li’L Darlin’,” “Cute,” “Whirly Bird,” and “The Kid From Red Bank” among many others have remained in the Basie book for over 50 years and counting! Hefti’s writing for Sinatra (Sinatra-Basie, Sinatra Swingin’ Brass) as well as his own studio big band albums, has stood up very well over the years as has his theme for The Odd Couple (although we will have to eventually forgive him for his original Batman theme). Hefti’s classic version of “I Get a Kick Out of You” was in Sinatra’s repertoire up to the very end. Atomic Basie (from 1957) featured outstanding soloing (Thad Jones, Joe Newman, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis) and impeccably swinging ensemble work the trademark of this great band and helped in continuing the momentum originally started by Ernie Wilkins’ famous chart “Every Day I Have the Blues” (w/ Joe Williams) which lead to a re-birth of the Basie “New Testament” band in the early 1950s.

Louie Bellson – Note Smoking: Bellson’s only direct-to-disc outing (from 1978) features an incredible L.A. big band starring Conte Candoli, Pete Christlieb, Don Menza, Snooky Young, Ross Tompkins, and Chuck Findley! The band doesn’t hold anything back (direct-to-disc or not) and the result is a burning set. Christlieb rips one of the best tenor solos ever on Gordon Goodwin’s burning original “Picture IV,” and Menza and Findlay soar on “Sambandrea Swing.” Sammy Nestico’s terrific setting of Ian McDougal’s “Bustling” (featuring Ron King on flugelhorn), and Candoli’s trumpet feature on a funky “I Can’t Get Started” are a few more highlights. A great chart by Tommy Newsom on “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” (with Louie playing the head on tuned tom-toms) is another delight with a terrific shout chorus.

Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band – All Smiles: Started in 1961, the Clarke-Boland Big Band gave us 12 years and 15 great albums. This was the original “United Nations” big band since it featured great players through the years from nearly a dozen countries including (but not limited to): Americans Johnny Griffin, Billy Mitchell, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Art Farmer, Benny Bailey, and (of course) Kenny Clarke; along with co-leader/pianist/arranger (and Belgian) Boland; England’s own Ronnie Scott; Dusko Goykovich (from the former Yugoslavia), and so on. All Smiles was their 1968 offering and it is a classic. Ten tunes are handled with style, flair, and (of course) significant driving swing feel and the soloists are outstanding too. Particularly tasty are “Get Out of Town” (the best version of this Cole Porter standard I’ve heard to date) and a flag-waver version of (believe it or not) John Phillip Sousa’s “High School Cadets” (from 1890!) The two-drummer-thing actually works quite well here too with both Kennys (Clarke and Clare). They compliment not complicate each other (but don’t try this at home).

Bob Curnow’s L.A. Big Band The Music of Pat Metheny Lyle Mays: This 1994 recording features Bob’s orchestrations of some of the most beautiful and original music of the past 20 years the compositions of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays. The band is made up of the heaviest jazz and session players in L.A. (which is saying something) who play this music exceptionally well. Imagine a trumpet section with Bobby Shew (who plays great lead jazz), Wayne Bergeron (who does the same), Buddy Childers (ditto), and both Don Rader and Ron Stout blowing jazz solos! The trombone section is just plain scary with Rick Culver, Andy Martin, Alex Iles, and Chuck Dana Hughes. Of course the Pat Metheny group is known as much for its exceptional ability to sound like more than just five or six players in addition to its ability to handle complex time signatures and rhythms. The rhythm section here does this concept justice. Check out Bill Cunliffe, Paul Viapiano, Tom Warrington, Steve Houghton, and Brian Kilgore who handle 12/8, 10/8, 8/8 (“First Circle”) and 7/4 (Have You Heard) like a veteran Greek wedding band. Finally, Bob Sheppard’s soprano solo on “First Circle,” Bobby Shew’s flugelhorn on “Always and Forever,” Danny House’s warm alto on “If I Could,” and Chuck Hughes’ trombone work on “Dream of the Return” are all exceptional. Here’s to the MAMA foundation for yet another winner and to Bob Curnow who had the excellent taste and foresight to select musicians of this caliber to bring his tasty orchestrations to life!

Duke Ellington – “#149;and his mother called him Bill”: The 1967 Duke Ellington Orchestra’s tribute to the music of Billy Strayhorn is class personified. Recorded only a few months after Billy’s untimely death at the age of 51, the band both roars through and caresses his original material. “Blood Count,” “Lotus Blossom,” “Day Dream,” “Rain Check,” “UMMG,” and “Intimacy of the Blues” are all treated with great care. Clark Terry and Johnny Hodges are quite simply amazing here as if this should come as a surprise to anyone? This is a tribute album with remarkable honesty and passion.

John Fedchock – New York Big Band: John’s debut album (1992) knocks one clean out of the park. His seven-year tenure with the Woody Herman Orchestra from 1981 87 (five of those as arranger, musical director, and lead/jazz trombonist) obviously served him well. His arrangements are uniformly excellent and with virtually everyone in the band an outstanding soloist, there are plenty of great moments here. With three of the best jazz trumpet players in the world (Barry Ries, Tim Hagans, and Greg Gisbert) not to mention the stellar lead trumpet work of Tony Kadleck, this band’s back row absolutely kills. The saxophone section is also awesome with five great soloists and the rhythm section (comprised of former Herman herdsmen Lynn Seaton, Dave Ratajcak, Joel Weiskopf) sizzles. Some of the writing highlights include John’s settings of “Limehouse Blues,” “Ruby,” “My Dear,” “Caravan,” and “Nefertiti” in addition to his originals “Blues Du Jour” (a nice follow up to his Blues for Red for Woody) and “Nightshades.” Fedchock’s jazz trombone playing is world-class as well.

The Maynard Ferguson Orchestra The Complete Roulette recordings: This 10-CD limited-edition set was put out by Mosaic back in 1994 and the quality is fantastic. There are 14 albums represented here with outstanding arrangements (many available from Sierra Music) by Don Sebesky, Slide Hampton, Don Menza, Willie Maiden, Mike Abene, Bill Holman, and others. The band swings hard and plays with great precision. The soloists are all excellent with saxophonists Lanny Morgan, Don Menza, and Joe Farrell along with trumpeters Don Rader Don Ellis and (of course) Maynard blowing great jazz (MF on both trumpet and valve trombone) in addition to the high stuff. Check out the band “Live” at Birdland with Pee Wee Marquette doing the announcing honors (“Maynard the Fox”). This is one of the great Hard Bop-inspired big bands of all time. Many of the arrangements are considered classics (Frame for the Blues,” “Message from Newport,” “And We Listened,” “Slide’s Derangement”) and are still being played today. Maynard is not to be believed on many of the cuts here!

Maynard Ferguson – MF Horn 4 5 (Live at Jimmy’s): This one captures Maynard Ferguson and his international band (with players from Britain, New Zealand, Holland, and the U.S.) in an early afternoon session in 1974 with a crew of CBS executives in the audience. Featured soloists include Ferdinand Povel on tenor, Bruce Johnstone on baritone, Andy Macintosh on alto, and a powerhouse rhythm section with Pete Jackson, Randy Jones, and Rick Petrone. Leading the trumpet section is the one and only Lyn Biviano (hot off the Buddy Rich band!) Maynard pulled some material out of the old book for this album (“Two for Otis,” “The Fox Hunt,” “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” “Got the Spirit”) and debuts some new material like “Teonova” and “Left Bank Express” (both by Pete Jackson). Maynard also re-recorded both “Nice Juicy” (originally on MF Horn 3), and MacArthur Park (from MF Horn). Bruce Johnstone’s solos on “MacArthur Park” and “Stay Loose With Bruce” inspired many young saxophonists to pick up the baritone sax! For sheer enjoyment excitement, this is a must-have for Maynard fans!

Bob Florence Big Band – Live at Concerts by the Sea: Bob Florence’s 1980 Grammy-nominated outing presents five original charts played masterfully by an L.A. big band comprised of some of the best players the West Coast has to offer including trumpeter Warren Luening, tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb, and drummer Nick Ceroli. Of course Bob is a supremely tasty pianist whose original solo and accompaniment style is unique and highly inventive (check him out backing up Sue Raney on “Quietly There).” His original compositions are consistently excellent and his arrangements are actually so unique that they fall into a category closer to “re-composition.” Highlights from this terrific album include Christlieb on “I’ll Remember” and Luening on “Lonely Carousel,” along with the whole band on “Be Bop Charlie” and “Party Hearty.”

Bob Florence Limited Edition Big Band – Earth: This 1996 recording (again on the MAMA label) is probably the only CD I’ve ever come close to actually wearing out if that is indeed possible. In my humble opinion, one of the greatest musical performances by a big band ever recorded would have to be Emily on this CD. Florence’s chart, along with Steve Huffsteter’s flugelhorn and Carl Saunders’ trumpet combine to create something very special here. In fact it was this recording that originally introduced me to the jazz trumpet playing of Carl Saunders which in turn sent me on a hunt for virtually everything he’s been on for the past 25 years. Only a few personnel changes since the previous recording (Trey Henry on bass and Gregg Field on drums) ensures that the core of ‘monsters’ remain. Five Florence originals and three standards (“Emily,” “Black and Tan Fantasy,” and “Straight, No Chaser”) are handled with the highest level of musicality humanly possible.

Neal Hefti – Neal Hefti and his Pops Orchestra: A jewel from 1962, this album represents the absolute timelessness of great writing and playing. “Coral Reef” should be in a time capsule if it isn’t already. “Cute,” “Moanin’,” “Exodus,” “Petit Fleur,” “One Two O’Clock Jump” and more are done to perfection! Dig the four flutes! The best studio/jazz players (Pete Conte Candoli, Joe Maini, Med Flory, Earl Palmer, Shelly Manne) and the incomparable writing of Neal Hefti = another desert island disc! I firmly believe if you love big bands, you will love this album.

Woody Herman – My Kind of Broadway: This is by far one of the greatest swinging big band albums of all time. For over 50 years Woody’s bands were proving grounds for young, talented players/arrangers, with each one contributing to his bands’ success through the years. This band is the Nat Pierce/Bill Chase/Phil Wilson band of 1964 and it swings hard from the get-go. Very tasty versions of Broadway show tunes (“I Got a Lot of Livin’ to do”) fill the album from start to finish. Check out the great feel that drummer Ronnie Zito and bassist Chuck Andrus get (along with Nat Pierce on piano). The band plays with powerhouse road-chops and driving swing!

Woody Herman – 40th Anniversary Concert: In 1976 Woody was celebrating 40 years as a bandleader (“Woodchoppers Ball” was a hit in 1936!) Many of the old guard dropped in to Carnegie Hall and came to play! A number of Woody’s classic hits including “Bijou,” “Four Brothers,” “Cousins,” and “Apple Honey,” were featured on the first half with Woody’s current band and their new music (“Blues in the Night,” “Fanfare for the Common Man,” “Freddy Hubbard’s Crisis”) were featured on the second half. It was an evening of tenor madness with veterans Zoot Sims, Stan Getz, Jimmy Giuffre, Al Cohn, and Flip Phillips along with Joe Lovano and Frank Tiberi (in the newest version of the herd). The jazz trumpet solos were tastefully provided by the legendary Candoli brothers (Pete and Conte) on Tony Klatka’s Oscar Peterson Trio plus one (with Clark Terry) -inspired Brotherhood of Man, along with current band member Dennis Dotson. From start to finish this album is a gas! The sheer joy emanating from the live audience lets you know that this was one very special evening of big band jazz music. Drummer Dan D’Imperio (along with the whole band) smokes on Broadbent’s tour-de-force chart on “Blues in the Night,” and on “Crisis” and “Penny Arcade,” too!

Woody Herman – 50th Anniversary Tour: This album was recorded live at the Great American Music Hall in 1986. This is by far one of the finest examples of big band jazz music period! The sound of the band is incredible. This is truly the way this music is supposed to sound! John Fedchock’s charts are all excellent and the soloing over-all is top-shelf. If I had to pick some high points (and I do) out of many, I’d have to mention Roger Ingram’s lead trumpet playing, Frank Tiberi’s phenomenal tenor work, the driving rhythm section of Jim Rupp, Lynn Seaton, and Chip Stephens, the jazz trumpet work of Ron Stout and Mark Lewis, and the outstanding jazz trombone playing of both John Fedchock and Paul McKee. This is a desert-island disc for sure.

Bill Holman – The Bill Holman Band: Recorded live to two-track (gutsy) in 1987, Holman’s JVC outing presents his great L.A. band slicing through some of the most deceptively difficult big band music you’re likely to hear. The band makes it sound fairly easy but that’s because this is one ridiculously great band! If you don’t want to take my word for it, give Bill’s chart on Just Friends a try sometime. This is a testament to the incredible musicality of the band members many of whom have had 20 years of tenure with this band. The lead trumpet playing of Carl Saunders is on par with his great jazz soloing, and Frank Szabo is no slouch either. Throw in Don Rader and Bob Summers and you have yourself a helluva trumpet section. There are four drummers in the world who play a shuffle-groove to my liking: Buddy Rich, Mel Lewis, Duffy Jackson, and Jeff Hamilton. Hamilton drives this band with no less than what we have come to expect from this consummate professional. Bill’s charts? Everyone knows they are always the epitome of originality and taste. His three originals and six arrangements are all keepers here of course. Any jazz program anywhere would benefit a great deal anytime by including some Bill Holman!

The Complete Solid State Recordings of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra: A terrific set of five limited edition CD’s (from seven classic albums) put out by Mosaic in 1994, this is timeless Thad and Mel from 1966 to 1970. There are somewhere around 20 to 25 Thad Jones arrangements that are in most if not all college university jazz libraries around the world. This band featured the cream of the crop of New York studio/jazz players with most of them earning superstar status before, during, and after their tenure with this great ensemble. There are 42 charts to choose from in this collection and they are all played at the highest possible level of musicianship. A few notables would have to include: The saxophone sections on “Groove Merchant,” “Tiptoe,” and “Little Pixie;” the driving swing of the killer rhythm section of Mel Lewis, Richard Davis, and Sir Roland Hanna; and Thad’s timeless original compositions and arrangements which are second to none!

Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra – Suite for Pops: This classic album from 1972 features Thad’s incomparable original compositions and arrangements played by (once again) New York’s finest. This is the first Thad Mel album that highlighted the amazing lead playing of Jon Faddis. A few of the primary soloists include Thad, Faddis, Janice Robinson, Jerry Dodgian, and Roland Hanna. This band sounds so good it should be illegal! This is a tribute to Pops that shines. “The Farewell” and “A Good Time Was Had By All” are exceptional performances.

Stan Kenton – Live at Redlands: Recorded live in 1970 in front of a room full of musicians and music educators on the University of California Redlands campus, this double-album presents some of Stan’s classic book (Peanut Vendor, Artistry in Rhythm Stan’s theme) along with some new music from Bill Holman (a killer “Tico Tico!”), a 5/4 original from Hank Levy (“Chiapas”), and two of Willie Maiden’s finest (“A Little Minor Booze” and “Didn’t We”). Outstanding soloing by Warren Gale, Quinn Davis, and Dick Shearer along with the amazing drumming of John (The Baron) Von Ohlen are highlights, but also pay attention to the super-clean brass releases (cut-offs) and phenomenal dynamic range Kenton trademarks.

Rob McConnell The Boss Brass – Big Band Jazz: Recorded direct to disc in 1977 – for those of you raised on digital this was cutting-edge technology for the time. The band recorded live in the studio and had to lay down each complete side of the LP from start to finish onto the master this means there were maybe 10-15 seconds between tunes and no opportunity to over-dub even if an error occurred in the last measure of the last tune of the side. They would have had to re-record the whole side. Talk about pressure! Those Toronto studio cats were so good it’s scary. This double album also features some of the tastiest big band writing, section playing, and soloing you are ever going to hear. How good is it? Good enough to compel Mel Torme to call up Rob and ask him to write an album’s worth of material (eventually two albums) for Mel and the band. A few highlights (of many) include: Flawless execution of all parts, incredible soloing by everyone featured w/ extra applause reserved for Guido Basso’s flugelhorn on “Good Morning Irene,” and “Street of Dreams,” the sax solos on “A Tribute to Art Fern” and “Street of Dreams,” the full band soli (minus the rhythm section a McConnell trademark) on “Just Friends,” and the remarkable concert piece “Porgy and Bess Suite” which is 15 minutes of right on! By the way, Rob’s chart on “Street of Dreams” is one of the tastiest big band arrangements ever! Check out the subtle key changes throughout the chart. Finally, Arnie Chycoski gives a master-class on lead trumpet playing throughout the album. If you’ve never heard this album, you will quite simply be blown away.

Rob McConnell The Boss Brass – Present Perfect: Recorded in 1979 (and also released as Brass My Soul), this album features four standards (although I had never heard Tropea Spinoza’s “Twist of the Wrist” before or after this version) and two Rob McConnell originals. The ensemble playing on “You Took Advantage of Me” and “Start With Mrs. Beanhart” is remarkable. One of Rob’s best originals (and he has many) is “The Waltz I Blew For You.” Fellow Canadian Oscar Peterson recorded this (with Clark Terry) on his album The Personal Touch. Gene Amaro’s flute and Sam Noto’s trumpet are outstanding and the band’s rhythm section-less soli (and 4/4 time shout chorus) are flawless on Waltz as well. This entire album feels great too! Big kudos once again to Arnie Chycoski for the great lead trumpet work, and to drummer Terry Clarke who always handles things nicely.

Bob Mintzer Big Band – Incredible Journey: In 1985 Bob Mintzer’s first big band outing as a leader/arranger/player was not only very well received by everyone who heard it, it also featured all original compositions and arrangements that would (within a matter of months) be played by virtually every college and high school band in the U.S. An incredible tunesmith, Mintzer also has exceptional taste in orchestration, and starting with his first big band arrangements (as a member of the Buddy Rich band back in the late ’70s), his unique writing approach is instantly recognizable. There is plenty to like on this album. There are terrific solos from Michael and Randy Brecker, Don Grolnick, and Bob himself. The “horn section around a single stereo microphone” recording technique used here (and on a number of Bob’s successful big band recordings on the DMP label) certainly shows the bands professionalism off to good measure. Peter Erskine and Lincoln Goines are solid on drums and bass, and Mintzer’s original compositions (particularly “Latin Dance” and “Incredible Journey”) are consistently excellent.

Buddy Rich – Swingin’ New Band: To say that Buddy’s 1966 Big Band was warmly received is the understatement of the century. With featured soloists like Bobby Shew, Jim Trimble, Gene Quill, Jay Corre, John Bunch, and Pete Yellin, and arrangements by Bill Holman, Phil Wilson, Bill Reddie, Oliver Nelson, and Don Piestrup, Buddy’s return to “leader” status (after a successful and lengthy sojourn as a highly-paid star sideman with Harry James) was set. Three of Buddy’s best albums were recorded live (two at the Chez and one at Caesar’s Palace). This album introduces the writing of Bill Reddie to the rest of the world (outside of Las Vegas) via his remarkable “West Side Story Medley.” He would follow this up with “Channel One Suite” a year later (and throw in “Machine” for good measure). Great charts, great playing, and the one and only Buddy Rich any questions?

Buddy Rich – Big Swing Face: Buddy’s follow-up album in 1967 saw the addition of 19-year-old Chuck Findley blowing great jazz trumpet, and the addition of Quinn Davis and Ernie Watts to the saxophone section. Jim Trimble is back on lead and jazz trombone, and the writing of Bill Holman, Bill Potts, Bob Florence, and Don Piestrup take center stage. There’s a reason why Buddy continued to perform “Love for Sale,” “Mexicali Nose,” “Willowcrest,” and “Machine” for the next 20 years they are burning big band charts!

Buddy Rich Plays Plays: In 1977 Buddy recorded his new band at RCA studios in New York. For my money this was Buddy’s best band. With Dave Stahl on lead trumpet (fresh off the Woody Herman and Count Basie orchestras), jazz trumpeters Dean Pratt and John Marshall, tenor saxophonists Steve Marcus and Bob Mintzer, Rick Stepton on lead trombone, and Barry Keiner on piano, this was no longer merely a ‘Killer Force’ it was a bona fide Tour de Force! Throw in Sammy Nestico’s “Ya Gotta Try,” Don Menza’s “Time Out,” and three nice originals from Mintzer, and you’ve got a definite ‘desert island disc’.

Composer, arranger, trumpet and piano player, Dr. Sam Lussier is coordinator of Jazz Studies at Florida International University where he directs the FIU Big Band and teaches Jazz Arranging, Jazz History, and Jazz Rehearsal Techniques.

The Latest News and Gear in Your Inbox - Sign Up Today!