On March 30th at 8PM at Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair, NJ, we will be celebrating 19 years of developing and presenting new music for big band. Since 1997 we have presented over 100 guest composers and performers and our resident composers have grown to eleven! This month we welcome composer Linda Miksza and her composition “Bottoms Up”, inspired by Thad Jones’s “electric period” from the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Linda Miksza is not only a composer, but also a performer and music educator. She writes in classical, musical theater, jazz and pop styles, and has studied composition with Ting Ho and Rich DeRosa. Linda has been featured with us in previous years. During our residency (Jan 1997-June 2003) at Tierney’s Tavern in Montclair, NJ, we performed her composition “Gris Fantasma” (A Mini Opera For Big Band), on Halloween of course, and since moving to Trumpets Jazz Club we have performed her arrangements of “Angel Eyes” and “Santa Baby”. Currently she is completing a collection of pieces set to the poetry of Maya Angelou, entitled “Melodies For Maya”. And, we have a guest conductor, Dr. David Demsey, Professor of Music and Coordinator of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University. Demsey will say a few words about the legacy of Thad Jones, who was the first artistic director of the jazz program at WPU.
Linda is the author of “Electric Thad: Thad Jones and His Use of Electric Instruments and Rock Styles in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra”, recently published in Jazz Perspectives, which I highly recommend as a “must read” for all of you Thad Jones/Mel Lewis fans.
Linda goes into great depths about that period of history not only with Thad and Mel, but with the music scene in general. In the article she interviews our lead alto player and contributing composer Ed Xiques who was a member of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra from 1971-1978. Currently, Linda is working on a more in depth version of that interview and preparing it for publication.
Program notes from Linda:
Bottoms Up is a “tip of the hat” to Thad Jones and was inspired by the Electric Thad topic. Its score includes electric guitar with a wah-wah effect pedal, electric bass and electric piano (specifically a Fender Rhodes). The form is basically a 12-bar blues with extended harmonies. It opens with a slow 4-bar “orchestral” prelude, before going into a funk-rock groove, representing the musical trend that so influenced Thad Jones as a composer in the 1970s.
It has been an amazing 19 years with these fabulous musicians! We’ve done everything from straight ahead to the avant-garde and everything in between.Currently Dennis Connors is working on a feature film about the band, a little preview of that is in this short trailer. We’re working towards a new recording and archiving all of our charts and documents from the past 19 years. A huge thank you to all who have performed with us, did the door (thank you Natascha, Chad, Dan, Ariel and many others), created fliers and ads (thank you Bruce Hanson), wrote stories about us (thank you Elzy Kolb and George Kanzler and many others) and of course a huge thank you to our audience members who have been incredibly loyal for the past 19 years, you inspire us to continue the mission!