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“Nedra” Howard Johnson and Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band

Nedra Johnson
Nedra Johnson
Another new video from our friend and resident (since 1997) photographer, videographer and film maker Dennis Connors from our performance (Feb 25, 2015) with Howard Johnson. “Nedra” is the title of this composition, composed by Howard for his daughter Nedra. Nedra Johnson is a wonderful performer in her own right: as vocalist, guitarist and yes..tuba player! Nedra often performs with her dad, as vocalist and on tuba and guested on his recording “Gravity! Right Now!”. Her ensemble, “Fat Bottom Girls”, consists of 4 tuba players and a rhythm section in addition to Nedra as leader. Their musical style is blues based, with a repertoire that includes R&B, rock, funk, gospel and jazz.
Enjoy this beautiful composition, Nedra.

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“Bits of Blue” video:Howard Johnson and Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band

Dennis Connors, our resident photographer, videographer and film maker.
Dennis Connors, our resident photographer, videographer and film maker.
Our friend and resident (since 1997) photographer, videographer and film maker Dennis Connors has created a short video of a past performance (Feb 25, 2015) of Howard Johnson with our big band, Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band. Dennis has a series of these short videos called “Bits of Blue”, that feature our band members and compositions of our resident composers. You can see those on the video page.

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Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band Celebrates Howard Johnson! July 27, 2016

howard-johnson-2On July 27th, at Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair, NJ, we will be celebrating the life, music and birthday of the amazing Howard Johnson! We will feature Howard’s big band charts of his music and arrangements of well known standards, such as Nica’s Dream by Horace Silver, and playing other charts of jazz standards that Howard has performed or recorded, and an arrangement of The Creator Has A Master Plan by our resident composer Russ Vines. (check out Howard’s version here)

Elzy Kolb
Elzy Kolb
To say that Howard Johnson is a national jazz treasure would be an understatement! What follows here in this post is a summary of his career written by our dear friend and excellent jazz journalist Elzy Kolb, who, for the past several months, has been creating daily posts on Facebook in celebration of Howard’s upcoming 75th birthday. Now in his 75th year (born Aug. 7, 1941), Johnson has been burning with the fire of bass-clef innovation since well before he took Eric Dolphy’s advice and moved to New York in 1963. By then, Johnson had already discovered that he could push the tuba’s range to previously unheard heights, surpassing the trombone and edging into trumpet territory. Though there was no existing repertoire for such unexplored territory in the early 1960s, Dolphy assured Johnson that someone with his ability would find plenty of work in the Big Apple. Almost as soon as he arrived in town, Johnson caught the ear—and joined the band–of Charles Mingus. The iconic bassist/composer wrote parts for him in such a high range “even trombonists wouldn’t welcome seeing those notes on the page,” Johnson says. Regardless, he always soared to the occasion, overjoyed by the challenge.
Howard Johnson and Gil Evans © JazzSign/Lebrecht Music & Arts
Howard Johnson and Gil Evans © JazzSign/Lebrecht Music & Arts

Johnson became the muse of other composers, including Gil Evans and Carla Bley, establishing relationships lasting decades. Every tuba player who came after has been challenged by the standard Johnson set. He believes the tuba can expand into a virtually unlimited range, based on the abilities of the player. By demonstrating his skills, he single-handedly moved the instrument out of its traditional place in the rhythm sections of large ensembles into featured roles in small bands.
He influenced musicians by expanding their ideas of the possibilities of the instrument, and demonstrated enormous generosity of spirit, mentoring other tuba players, past, present and future. He influenced jazz (and pop) composers and arrangers by bringing a heretofore ignored instrument to the front line of soloists, and changed jazz overall by altering the direction of how jazz used the bass clef—no more oom-pah-pah, but pure linear bop, swing and rock phrasing that could stand on its own against any other “typical” jazz solo instrument.
Howard Johnson's tuba choir "Gravity"!
Howard Johnson’s tuba choir “Gravity”!
At a time when jazz-rock fusion was gaining traction, Johnson opened up the music without diluting the tradition, performing with an unwavering jazz sensibility as a founding member of the “Saturday Night Live” band. His writing, arranging and playing captured the attention and imagination of such pop culture icons as John Lennon, Paul Simon, Levon Helm and Taj Mahal; Johnson never dumbed it down, never resorted to spoon-feeding anyone “Jazz 101” level music. He has always been “The Real Thing,” as Taj Mahal dubbed the 1971 CD that debuted Johnson’s innovative multi-tuba brass choir, Gravity.
Approaching his 75th birthday, Johnson declares that he still burns to play, still has fire in his belly to solo, to increase awareness of the versatility of often-underutilized horns, and to continue to have his say on the definitive way to play them.
Since 1963, Howard Johnson has performed and recorded on a variety of instruments, including tuba, baritone saxophone, bass saxophone, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, flugelhorn, electric bass, cornet, pennywhistle, E-flat clarinet, B-flat clarinet; credited on more than 600 recordings. He has made numerous contributions as an arranger, composer, educator, clinician, artist in residence, and vocalist.
Howard Johnson on baritone sax with Levon Helm
Howard Johnson on baritone sax with Levon Helm
Partial list of live credits: (* indicates NEA Jazz Master) Charles Mingus: 1964-1966; 1972-1974 Hank Crawford: 1965-1967 *Gil Evans: 1966-1988 *Archie Shepp: 1966-1968 Buddy Rich: 1966 *Gerald Wilson: 1967; 1972 Oliver Nelson: 1967; 1972 *Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra: 1968 Jazz Composer’s Orchestra: 1968-1970 (*Carla Bley, Mike Mantler, Cecil Taylor, *Pharoah Sanders) *Carla Bley: 1968-1975 *Quincy Jones: 1972 Taj Mahal: 1971-present The Band: 1971-1976 Gato Barbieri: 1974-1975 John Lennon: 1974-1980 Saturday Night Live: 1975-1980 (bandleader in 1979-’80 season) George Gruntz: 1976-2013 (including first jazz band tour of mainland China in 1991)
Howard Johnson and Jack DeJohnette
Howard Johnson and Jack DeJohnette
*Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition: 1984-1987 Michele Rosewoman’s New Yor-Uba: 1985-present *Dizzy Gillespie Big Band: 1987 Abdullah Ibrahim: 1987-1990 North German State Radio (NDR) Big Band: 1991-1995 John Scofield: 1995-1996 *J. J. Johnson: 1996 Three Baritone Saxophone Band: 2004-2013 Charles Tolliver Big Band: 2004-2013 David “Fathead” Newman: 2005-2008 Levon Helm Band: 2006-2012 *Randy Weston: 2013-2014 (recording set for 2016 release) Johnson also appeared and/or recorded with *McCoy Tyner, *Andrew Hill, *Freddie Hubbard, Ray Charles, *Jimmy Owens, Jane Bunnett, T.S. Monk, Marty Ehrlich, Lee Morgan, Clifford Jordan, the Heath Brothers, Beaver Harris, Maria Muldaur, David Sanborn, Catherine Russell, Bob Moses, Hank Mobley, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, *Gunther Schuller, Frank Strozier, *Cecil Taylor, B.B. King, Paul Butterfield, Bob James, Bill Dixon, George Benson, John Faddis, Leon Thomas, *Muhal Richard Abrams, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Muddy Waters, Carly Simon, and many others.

Howard Johnson's 5 baritone sax group with rhythm section "The Bear-Tones"
Howard Johnson’s 5 baritone sax group with rhythm section “The Bear-Tones”
Howard Johnson as a leader: Substructure/Gravity: Multi-tuba brass choir (1968-present); Alumni include Bob Stewart, Joseph Daley, Dave Bargeron, Earl McIntyre, and others. HoJo Five (1988-present); With Erica Lindsay, Francesca Tanksley, Melissa Slocum, and others. Beartones: Multi-baritone band (2003-present); Alumni include Lisa Parrott, Claire Daly, Lauren Sevian. Other: Aided in design and development of Heritage Howard Johnson Gravity Meinl-Weston tuba. Clinics and residencies: Bowling Green University, Penn State, University of Missouri (KC), Texas Christian University, University of Akron, and Kansas State University, among others.
hojo tuba on backDiscography as a leader (all on Verve): Arrival: (tribute to *Pharoah Sanders) with Nubia (1994); GRAVITY!!! (1995); Right Now!: Gravity with special guest Taj Mahal (1998). Partial discography credits: (* indicates NEA Jazz Master) Charles Mingus: Music Written for Monterey 1965 (1965), Charles Mingus and Friends in Concert (1972), Let My Children Hear Music (1972) Hank Crawford: Dig These Blues (1965), After Hours (1966), Mr. Blues (1967) *Archie Shepp: Mama Too Tight (1966), Things Have Got to Change (1971), Tray of Silver (1989) *Gary Burton: A Genuine Tong Funeral (1967) *Charlie Haden: Liberation Music Orchestra (1968) Jazz Composers Orchestra: Communications (1968) *Andrew Hill: Passing Ships (1969) *Pharoah Sanders: Izipho Zam (My Gifts) (1969) *Gil Evans: More than a dozen recordings released from 1969 through 2008 Taj Mahal The Real Thing (1971) Johnny Coles: Katumbo (Dance) (1971) *Carla Bley: Escalator Over the Hill (1971), Tropic Appetites (1974) Charles Tolliver: Music Inc. (1971), With Love (2007) *George Russell: Living Time (1972) The Band: Rock of Ages (1972), The Last Waltz (1978), High on the Hog (1996) Gato Barbieri: Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata (1974), Chapter Four: Alive in New York (1975) John Lennon: Walls and Bridges (1974); John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy (1980) Sam Rivers: Crystals (1974) Jaco Pastorius: Jaco Pastorius (1975), Word of Mouth (1981) *Dexter Gordon: Sophisticated Giant (1977) Clifford Jordan: Inward Fire (1978) George Gruntz: Nine recordings released between 1978 and 1994 *Jack De Johnette Special Edition: Album Album (1984) *Jimmy Heath: New Picture (1985) Spike Lee film soundtracks School Daze, Mo’ Better Blues, Malcolm X, Clockers (1988-1995) *Miles Davis: Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux (1991) Chet Baker: But Not For Me (1994) *J. J. Johnson The Brass Orchestra (1996) Tom Harrell: Wise Children (2003)

Our history with Howard goes all the way back to 2001! Our lead trumpet player, Mike Spengler, who was playing with the Ellington Orchestra, had asked Howard, who was also playing in the Ellington Orchestra, if he would like to bring in his music to our big band. Howard said he was interested and would like to talk to me. So I went to the performance at St Peter’s Church in the Citi-Corp building in NYC (which we also refer to as the “jazz church”), with jazz journalist George Kanzler, and I spoke with Howard before they went on stage. We talked a little bit about what he would like to do and agreed to call each other. He came in as our guest composer/performer August 29th of 2001, when we were still playing monthly concerts at Tierney’s Tavern in Montclair, NJ.
George Kanzler interviewed Howard and wrote an extensive article for the Star Ledger. Howard called Elzy Kolb and told her about the date and about our band. She called me for an interview and wrote an article in the NYTimes about the appearance. We had a full house the night of the performance, with people sitting on the floor and people sitting on each others laps, it was amazing! The love that this audience had for Howard was so moving!

We moved to Trumpets Jazz Club in 2003, but before we made that move, we performed at NJPAC’s Sounds of the City in Newark,NJ in August, and we produced another show for Howard, this time at the Burgdorff Cultural Center of Maplewood, NJ in October. After our move to Trumpets, Howard came in a few times to perform as a soloist on various compositions here and there. The next time he was featured was on a fundraiser that the band organized for me while I was recovering from a serious cancer operation. You can see clips from that performance on the mini-documentary that our good friend, resident photographer and film maker Dennis Connors made, “DMOCBB-A Sonic Party”. The next time that Howard was featured was our 14th Anniversary, and it was the first time I had brought the band back after my cancer operation, scheduled for Jan 26th, 2011, but we had to reschedule several times due to blizzards, until we finally had our performance in March. Parts of that performance are also in DMOCBB-A Sonic Party. The next time we featured Howard was last year on February 25th, 2015. Also on that performance was guest and emerging composer/bassist Charlie Dougherty.

Howard and the Gravity tuba at Dillon Music in Woodbridge, NJ!
Howard and the Gravity tuba at Dillon Music in Woodbridge, NJ!
I’ve also had the opportunity to perform with Howard outside of the big band. On March 1, 2006,I was honored to play the celebration of the unveiling of a tuba designed especially for Howard called the Meinl Weston 2011TA HoJo Gravity Series 4-Valve 4/4 BBb Tuba Standard!Here is a youtube video of Howard and the tuba maker explaining the technology of this tuba at Dillon Music and some shots of us playing at the J.J. Bitting Brewing Company, along with bassist Bill May and drummer Jeff Brillinger.

A few months later, July 2006, I accompanied Howard at the Summer Arts Cafe at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, presented by the Jazz Arts Project. This was an intimate setting that allowed Howard to play and reminisce about his career in music.The audience members were of course thrilled by his performance and by his stories.

Eric Dolphy: Freedom of Sound Festival, our group:Marty Ehrlich, Anton Denner, Howard Johnson, Ken Filiano, Michael Sarin and yours truly!
Eric Dolphy: Freedom of Sound Festival, our group:Marty Ehrlich, Anton Denner, Howard Johnson, Ken Filiano, Michael Sarin and yours truly!
In May 2014, I composed a piece in honor of Eric Dolphy called “Birdsongs for Eric”, which featured Howard on bass clarinet, and was premiered on the “Eric Dolphy:Freedom of Sound” festival, produce by Seed Artists. Also on that performance; Ken Filiano-bass, Michael Sarin-drums, Marty Ehrlich-flute, and Anton Denner-flute.

And now we arrive at our upcoming performance July 27th, 2016, to celebrate (a week early) Howard’s 75th birthday, and his 53 years of making music, contributing music to what at times seems like the entire musical community around the world! Howard has pioneered and pushed the boundaries of the tuba, both technically and musically and into musical genres that were new territories for the tuba. hojo pwAnd as Elzy said in the summary of his career, it’s not just the tuba that he plays, but also baritone saxophone, bass saxophone, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, flugelhorn, electric bass, cornet, penny whistle, E-flat clarinet, B-flat clarinet! Elzy is more than 100 days into her daily posts on Facebook with more posts to come with some of the most well-known names and best stories.Elzy often ends her posts with this post script and it’s one of my favorites…”And don’t forget, this man has a tuba “sitting in the corner, waiting to run riot.” And if he’s not at home, Howard likely has a penny whistle in his pocket, just in case some music is called for.”
See you at the party!!

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Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band features guest composer Timothy Miller and the Elizabeth High School Upper Academy Jazz Band

Timothy Lee MillerOn June 8th, 2016 at Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair, NJ, Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band welcomes back our featured guest composer Timothy Miller and the Elizabeth High School Upper Academy Big Band. Tim was a featured guest composer, along side composers from the VCFA MFA Music Composition Program (where I am on the faculty), and one of my co-faculty members Andy Jaffe, 2 years ago on July 30th, 2014. Tim is bringing in 4 charts to the band, 2 we have done before, Traffic Circle and Miles To Go Before I Sleep, and 2 new ones, Poochie’s Waltz and Bright Morning Star. About the music: “Traffic Circle”-inspiration for this piece came from a recent visit to Scotland where there are traffic circles, or turnabouts at nearly every intersection where we in the US would have traffic lights. The Scots seem to have it down, but all I could envision was the final scene of the original Pink Panther movie where all of the characters of the film are going round and round this circle in a crazy game of charades. This is an upbeat piece with a lot of energy.”Miles To Go Before I Sleep”-In 1997 my brother helped me move from Los Angeles to Nashville, which was a four day drive across the country. The trip was complicated, however, by an encounter with a massive storm front, which divereted our trek south into Texas to avoid coming face to face with a huge tornado. As we drew closer and closer to Nasvhille and my new home there, all I could think about was how tired I was, and it was just a few more miles before I could sleep again.”Bright Morning Star”-This is my newest big band piece, which features the sax section with baritone, tenor and alto solos, plus a full section soli, both improvised and written. It is inspired by and based on one of my choral works – Song On May Morning, which was commissioned by Anadarka High School in Oklahoma. “Poochie’s Waltz”-This piece was written in honor of my mother – “Poochie” – whose health has been somewhat precarious lately. The theme is a waltz I wrote in 1988 just prior to starting grad school at the University of Miami. Sitting unused in my sketch book, I dusted it off and put it to use in this new work that features the piano all the way through. The big band just lends a little support from time to time, but it’s a very soft piano spotlight that I wrote with the improvisatorial genius of Diane Moser in mind. MY mother’s nickname comes from her sisters in childhood. She was one of eight children – two boys and six girls. Marie, the oldest of the girls gave each of the others nicknames – Stellee, Oobye, Bucky Dick, Trudy Boo and Poochie.
ElizabethHS
We are very pleased to welcome back the Elizabeth High School Upper Academy Jazz Band directed by Wayne Dillon! These very talented youngsters and their super dedicated director have been very busy performing and winning awards! They recently competed in Philadelphia this past April as part of the Worldstrides Heritage Music festival. The competition took place at the University Of Pennsylvania’s Irvine auditorium, and featured twenty three ensembles from across the northeast. The Upper Academy Jazz band won 3 awards,Gold Rating – 1st place,Outstanding Band of the Festival and Adjudicator’s Award. Two students also won the Maestro Award for best solos:alto saxophonist Brandon Mercado and trumpet player Jessa St. Laurent! Both the Upper Academy Jazz and Symphonic Bands won the Sweepstakes Award with the highest combined scores. Congratulations to all of these talented students and their directors!
Our sets for June 8th are:
7PM the Elizabeth High School Upper Academy Jazz Band
8PM & 10 PM Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band featuring guest composer Timothy Miller
Looking forward to seeing you there!

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Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band 19th Anniversary Concert w/guest composer Linda Miksza

photo credit: Dennis Connors
photo credit: Dennis Connors
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 and Ed Xiques, photo credit: Dennis Connors
Linda and Ed Xiques, photo credit: Dennis Connors
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.

Ed Xiques leading the band from our early days at Trumpets Jazz Club. Photo credit: Dennis Connors
Ed Xiques leading the band from our early days at Trumpets Jazz Club. Photo credit: Dennis Connors
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.

Dennis Connors, our resident photographer and film maker.
Dennis Connors, our resident photographer and film maker.

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!

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“Yellow Stars of Tolerance” documentary film score

yellow Stars
Last year, I had the pleasure of composing music for the documentary film “Yellow Stars of Tolerance” by Jemglo Production Company, and at this same time last year I was at MacIntyre Music Recording Studio with engineer Reed Robins, recording the music ala solo piano.

In May, JEMGLO released “Yellow Stars of Tolerance”, a half-hour documentary about yellow stars that were painted on a synagogue exterior in the town of Elbeuf in Normandy, France during World War II. In an initiative led by former Elbeuvian/ current New Yorker Marie Lippman, the stars were officially preserved a few days after the 70th anniversary of D-Day last June as a permanent testament to the dangers of intolerance. The plaque that was installed read: “The yellow stars painted on this wall during the Occupation 1940-1944 are evidence of the anti-Semitic hatred of the Nazis. They were protected so we will always remember the mortal danger of racism.”

Ellen Friedland and Curt Fissel
Ellen Friedland and Curt Fissel

Ellen Friedland (producer/writer at Jemglo) and Curt Fissel (director/director of photography/editor at Jemglo) contacted me about composing music for this project in the summer of 2014. I immediately said yes because I had worked on another project with them for the Augustus Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site through Voices and Visions Productions Ltd, and I really enjoyed the experience. I had also worked with Curt about 10 years ago when he generously volunteered to create a short documentary about my big band entitled “What is this thing called big band?” So I set out researching Jewish composers who were from France, or were expatriated to France at the onset of WWII. I found a very in-depth book on this subject called “Forbidden Music:The Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis” by Michael Haas. I also did lots of research about the music during that time period, what the citizen’s of El Beuf might have been listening to on their radio’s, or phonographs or in the synagogue. The music I composed has influences of sacred Jewish music from Europe and North Africa and Klezmer music, thanks to my years performing and recording with Yale Strom and Elizabeth Schwartz. I included music by other composers as well: the French Jewish composer Charles-Valetin Alkan, the Austiran hazzan, Salomon Sulzer, who modernized traditional synagogue melodies in the 1840’s and Felix Mendelssohn (Bartholdy), who refused to give up his Jewish name (as many Jews did out of survival) and who’s grandfather was the celebrated Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. Even though Mendelssohn has a Christian last name on record, the Nazi’s banned his music because of his Jewish roots.

Yellow Stars was picked up for distribution by NETA (National Educational Telecommunications Association), a professional association that serves public television licensees and educational entities in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. To date, PBS and educational stations in the following regions have broadcast the documentary: Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Monterey, CA; Augusta, Savannah and Columbus, GA; Salt Lake City, UT; Milwaukee, WI; Champaign, IL; Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Greenville, Sparta and Columbia, SC; Memphis, TN; New Orleans, LA; Charleston, WV; Waco, Temple and Bryan, TX; South Bend, Elkhart, Evansville, and Elkhart IN; Fargo, Valley City, Minot, and Bismarck ND; Anchorage and Juneau, AK; and Quincy-Hannibal, MO.

The documentary has also been/is an Official Selection at: United Nations Association Film Festival (Palo Alto, CA), Bucharest (Romania) Jewish Film Festival, Cincinnati Film Festival, Culver City (Los Angeles) Film Festival, San Luis Obispo (CA) Jewish Film Festival (10 January 2016), and New Jersey Film Festival (21 February 2016), and is scheduled to be screened at a program entitled “France and the Holocaust Revisited” to be presented on March 23rd by the American Jewish Historical Society at the Center for Jewish History in NY,NY.

A week after the recording session, January 7, 2015, came the attacks on the headquarters of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket near the Porte de Vincennes in Paris, France. Seventeen people were killed and twenty two people were wounded. Immediately afterwards, someone in El Beuf, sprayed red paint over the yellow stars on the wall of the synagogue, the subject of this film, the plaque had already been vandalized months before.

Paris vigil
As I watched the news from Paris, and listened to President Holland, it felt like I had already lived this, through researching, composing and recording music for this documentary…I couldn’t grasp that this was happening again, right now, in our time. My brain had been involved in music from ancient temple days, the 1800’s, the 1950’s and 60’s…how could this be happening again? It was a sobering feeling.

I will post updates on my facebook page and you can also find updates on Jemglo’s facebook page.

Meanwhile, I leave you with this from my Diane Moser WDMO recording (2012), myself on piano, Rob Thorsen on bass, Duncan Moore on drums, Marguerita Page on vocals and my son Chad Moser who created the mix….”One Love”.
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Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band features guest composer Phil Engsberg Dec 9, 2015

Phil Engsberg HeadshotContinuing with presenting emerging young composers the CBB features guest composer Phil Engsberg on Dec 9, 2015 at Trumpets Jazz Club, Montclair, NJ. Phil Engsberg is one of New Jersey’s up-and-coming young composers. Phil attended the University of North Florida to study saxophone performance with the great Bunky Green, but found his voice after moving to New Jersey to study composition at William Paterson University with some of the well-established musicians in the area – Cecil Bridgewater, Pete McGuinness, and Jim McNeely.

Drawing heavily from the legacy of Gil Evans and Bob Brookmeyer, Phil’s music is rooted in the tradition of classic big band writing, but is always looking to touch the audience in its own way. Dabbling in everything from big band composition and film scoring, to poetry, and spoken word, his music brings an exciting, lyrical storytelling aspect that is sure to grab your attention, and keep you looking for what comes next.

Phil’s music has been performed at some of New York and New Jersey’s premiere jazz clubs. He co-leads a big band called “Big Beat” with Caleb Rumley and Charlie Dougherty, both who have been guest composers with the CBB. He is currently a part of the BMI Jazz Composer’s Workshop and is looking forward to bringing some of his newest works to life.

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Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band Annual Peace Concert and Tribute to Daniel Pearl World Music Days Oct 7th, 2015

images Once again we present our Annual Peace Concert and Tribute to Daniel Pearl World Music Days on Oct 7th, 8PM at Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair, NJ. Our peace concerts began the month of September in 2001, just a few short weeks after the terrorist attacks on Sept 11th. Our next peace concert was in 2004, and then again in 2008. Since October 2011, we have been participating with the Daniel Pearl World Music Days, and each year we present an evening of music that reflects on our global society; it’s challenges, it’s beauty and our hopes for a more harmonious future.

This year we are featuring new works by:Marty Fogel, Rob Middleton, Diane Moser and guest composer,Caleb Rumley. We will also feature works that we have featured in past peace concerts by our resident composers:Jim Cifelli, Matt Haviland, Rob Henke, Erick Storckman, Russ Vines and Ed Xiques.

Daniel Pearl
Daniel Pearl

Although his vocation as a journalist is what brought Daniel Pearl professional acclaim, Danny was also a classically trained violinist, an avid fiddler and a creative mandolin player who used his passion for music to form friendships that crossed cultural and religious divides.

Danny lived a life that knew no geographical boundaries with a spirit that knew no prejudice. He joined musical groups in every community in which he lived, leaving behind a trail of musician-friends around the globe. While working as a Wall Street Journal reporter in South Asia in 2002, he was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan, causing international outrage.

The world was shocked by the senseless loss of Daniel Pearl, an ethical journalist and accomplished musician who dedicated his life to bringing joy and understanding to the world.
Since then, he has become an icon for all wishing to bridge East-West differences.

The Daniel Pearl Foundation was formed by Danny’s family and friends to continue his mission and to address the root causes of this tragedy in the spirit, style and principles that shaped Danny’s work and character. These principles include uncompromised objectivity and integrity; insightful and unconventional perspective; tolerance and respect for people of all cultures; unshaken belief in the effectiveness of education and communications; and the love of music, humor and friendship.

Every year around his October 10th birthday, musicians around the world join in “Harmony for Humanity” to honor Danny’s memory and the principles by which he lived. Since 2002, Daniel Pearl World Music Days has grown to include the participation of more than 11,000 performances in 129 countries.

We dedicate this concert to the spirit of Daniel Pearl and the World Music Days initiative, in the hopes that we will all recognize that we are here together on this planet, and to live in harmony and peace.
“There are two aspects of individual harmony: the harmony between body and soul, and the harmony between individuals. All the tragedy in the world, in the individual and in the multitude, comes from lack of harmony. And harmony is the best given by producing harmony in one’s own life. ”
― Hazrat Inayat Khan

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Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band 18th Anniversary Concert! June 10th, 2015

photo by Dennis Connors
photo by Dennis Connors

Eighteen years ago, on January 29th, 1997, we had our first performance at Tierney’s Tavern in Montlcair. The photo to the left (courtesy of Dennis Connors) with Tom Colao on alto sax, Marty Fogel on tenor sax, guitarist Larry Maltz and myself in the background is from that residency, which ran from January 1997 to June 2003. We performed every last Wednesday of the month, played the music of our resident composers and the music of a myriad of guest composers; some who were from the area, some who came from further away including, England, Japan,and various parts of the states. One of those was guest composers was trumpet player Tom Wirtel , who drove all the way from central Illinois, during a snow storm, and picked up another trumpet player along the way…all for the music. We have been extraordinarily blessed to have such an amazing group of composers and performers come be our guests, all of which are listed on the DMOCBB page.

Erick Storckman
Erick Storckman

We have been in residence at Trumpets Jazz Club, Montclair, NJ since November 2003. We’ve also performed in many other venues and festivals along the way: 12 Miles West Theatre, Burgdorff Cultural Center, Montclair Public Library, New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music,Jersey Jazz by the Lake (the day after hurricane Floyd no less!), New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Lake George Jazz Weekend, and The Meadowlands Environmental Center.

Guests have included vocalists, instrumentalists, poets, spoken word, rappers, film makers, actors, and dancers! Recently we’ve invited young, emerging composers to join us such as Caleb Rumley, Sarah McDonald, Joe Vilardi, and Charlie Dougherty. We’ve really enjoyed working with these exciting young composers, and there will be more soon!

Elizabeth High School Jazz Band

We have another “first” for us this month, we are including the Elizabeth High School Upper Academy Jazz Band, directed by Wayne Dillon, in our celebration! These very talented youngsters will perform at 7PM. The Elizabeth HS Upper Academy Jazz band is made up of 20 students in the tenth through twelfth grades. The students audition in Sept and the band is created. The band placed second in 2010 at the NJAJE State championships in Div 1., and have won best trombone section twice. The band has earned superior ratings at music festivals for the past 10 years, and has just completed a 6 week jazz residency with Oscar Perez and Nuevo Comienza.

This month,we are featuring the music of our resident composers who are busily creating new works for the band including: Erick Storckman, Marty Fogel, Ed Xiques, Matt Haviland, Rob Middleton, Chris Rogers, Russ Vines and yours truly!

I also want to say a very special thank you to Natascha Radke Henke, who for many years was my co-conspirator in all Natasha3123DeSatCropresizedthings big band and Composers Forum of Montclair. Natascha moved to the states many years ago, married out trumpet player Rob Henke, and began helping me with graphic design, mailings, programs, collecting money at the door, helping guest artists find their way to the club and just being a great friend!

Elzy

Another thank you goes to our friend and wonderful jazz journalist Elzy Kolb. Elzy has written countless articles about us,helping to spread the word, and during my cancer crisis, was there, along with her husband Russ Vines, supporting and helping in every way possible! Also, a huge thank you to the many journalists who have covered us from the beginning: George Kanzler, who was the first journalist to really spread the word about us with countless articles in The Newark Star Ledger, and was an incredible supporter of the band. After George retired, Zan Stewart came in, and became a wonderful supporter of the band, writing many wonderful articles as well. A thank you to Jay Lustig, who helped spread the word at the Star Ledger, and now spreads the word on his own site, NJARTS.net.
A thank you to Jim Beckerman of The Record, Tony Mottola, editor of The New Jersey Jazz Society Journal, and Hot House Magazine, which from the very beginning, along with George Kanzler, has been an incredible supporter of the band. We also thank The Montclair Times, WBGO, Homegrown Radio and John Hammel, for their constant support over the years, and the many other journalist and radio stations who have interviewed us and helped immensely in reaching out to the public about the band.

andy
A big thank you to Andy Eulau, who is not only our bassist extraordinaire, he also created this website, and continues to help, maintain, and in general put out those hacker fires!

A huge thank you to the many audio engineers and photographers and film makers who have been documenting the band since 1997; Kevin Papa, Chris Drukker, Ryen Tetzloff, Curt Fissel, Bruce Hanson, and John Guth, who recorded our first and only CD, but has come in many times to record us live.

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And an extra huge thank you to Dennis Connors who has been documenting the band consistently since 1997, has taken hundreds of photographs, was one of the videographers on our first documentary, and has gone on to make many more films about us, which you can see on the video page.

Thanks to the many people who have been doing the door for us these last several years, Ariel Guidry and her sister, , John Albert Dubinsky, Dan Cassidy, and my son Chad Moser, who not only does the door, but also comes in and plays with us on turntables!

Thank you to Trumpets Jazz Club, Enrico Granafei, Kristine Massari, Judy De Angelis and all of their staff, for being so supportive and giving us a home!

And thank you to our wonderful audience members, you are like family to us, we always look forward to playing music for you, because you are so incredibly appreciative and supportive! Thank you one and all for your support through the years, we could not have done this without you!

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Reviews

Tim Ferguson’s/Inside Out “Hold That Thought” CD Review

Picture 1Bassist Tim Ferguson’s unconventional trio Inside/Out is a collaborative group that makes its recorded debut with Hold That Thought. Sandwiched between a piece by bassist Charlie Haden and another by pianist Mal Waldron this engaging mix of free improvisations and original compositions brims with a warm intimacy and intense lyricism.

Haden’s “Silence” opens with pianist Diane Moser’ tolling keys that usher in trumpeter Rob Henke’s melancholic, long notes. Henke’s horn expands evocatively over Moser’s somber lines and the leader’s thumping bass. Eventually a mellifluous three-way conversation ensues that is full of evocative intelligence and relaxed camaraderie.

Henke switches from alto horn to trumpet after stating the effervescent theme on Waldron’s “You.” His burnished tone blows over his band mates rolling vamps fading out as Moser takes center stage with an expressive and eloquent extemporization. Ferguson’s charming and poetic solo showcases his superb virtuosity and his agile handling of the strings.

The lone Ferguson contribution, “Un Bel Lago” is a nostalgic and impressionistic piece named after the Italian/Swiss lake Lago Maggiore. His emotive con arco bass sets the mood for an introspective duet with Moser and for Henke’s intriguing and expectant monologue.

Henke weaves lilting, shimmering sonic threads around Ferguson’s thumping, pensive bass on his cinematic “A Drink and Cigarette.” Moser’s pianism cascades like an evocative harp around the melody. Moser’s own bluesy “One For Mal” features her soulful, suave soliloquy and Henke’s gritty, rousing embellishments.

The on the spot, ad-lib title track is the perfect example of their seamless esprit de corps. The musicians express their individuality in languid, pensive phrases that feed off each other and form an intensely alluring harmonic tapestry.

This conceptually cohesive record is a stimulating and elegant celebration of collective spontaneity. Ferguson and his colleagues, thanks to their superlative artistry, masterfully balance improvisational rigor with a graceful melodic sense. Hold That Thought may not break new ground but it is delightfully fresh and subtly inventive with both an intellectual and a sentimental appeal.

by HRAYR ATTARIAN Published: April 20, 2015