Last Sunday, March 4, I had the great honor to posthumously award the California Jazz Arts Society’s first Lifetime Achievement Award, to composer, director, jazz educator, and jazz guitar master, Mundell Lowe. The award had been announced last spring, and Mundell was well aware that he was the recipient. However, due to his illness at the time, the ceremony had to be delayed, but was unfortunately never able to be rescheduled before his death in December.
Adam Lowe, Mundy’s son accepted the award for his father.
Celebrating the music of Mundell Lowe’s career were guitarists Frank Potenza, Ron Eschete, vocalists Becky Hughes, Dewey Erney, and myself. Bassist Luther Hughes also acted as the event host.
More photos can be viewed in the Gallery section HERE
As an interpreter of classic American popular songs from the 1930s and 1940s, vocalist and guitarist Rebecca Kilgore helped revive the hits of yesterday for modern-era jazz audiences. Born in Waltham, MA, in 1949, she relocated to Portland, OR, at the age of 30, beginning her music career fronting an area swing band dubbed the Wholly Cats and recording a 1982 LP titled Doggin’ Around. Following the group’s 1984 breakup, she formed her own unit, the Rebecca Kilgore Quintet, which quickly emerged as a mainstay of the Northwest jazz scene, and in 1989, she released the cassette-only I Hear Music. Most of Kilgore’s subsequent recordings were in conjunction with other performers: In 1990, she teamed with John Miller for Put on a Happy Face, and in 1993 appeared with Portland’s Tall Jazz Trio on their Plays Winter Jazz disc. However, Kilgore’s most fruitful collaborations were in conjunction with pianist Dave Frishberg; after teaming for 1993’s Looking at You, they reunited a year later for I Saw Stars, followed in 1997 by Not a Care in the World and again in 2001 with The Starlit Hour. At the same time, Kilgore also fronted a ’60s-style country band, Beck-a-Roo, and in 1994 contributed vocals to the score of the CBS animated special Tales From the Far Side, inspired by the popular Gary Larson comic strip. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
In 2016 Dave became the drummer for Barbra Streisand. He has played three tours with Streisand, and plays on her current CD/DVD, “Barbra – The Music..The Mem’ries..The Magic!”, currently on Netflix. Dave toured from 2000-2010 as drummer and lead vocalist for Chuck Mangione. Dave’s vocal on Mangione’s “The Children of Sanchez” and his bebop scat vocal on “Dizzymiles” were featured at the Playboy Jazz Festival at Hollywood Bowl and The Blue Note in New York City. Dave toured and recorded two CD’s with Maynard Ferguson, 1987-91.
Dave plays drums on four of Michael Bublé’s CD’s including Bublé’s notable version of “Moondance”. Dave has played drums on the FOX TV show “Family Guy” and has backed Seth MacFarlane with The Ron Jones Big Band. Dave is the drummer on nine of Cheryl Bentyne’s (of the Manhattan Transfer) CD’s and has done six tours of Japan with Bentyne. Dave sings on two tracks of her CD “Moonlight Serenade” including a scat solo on the song “Tull Tales”, named after Dave! Dave wrote the vocalese lyric for Bentyne’s “All of You” for her 2009 Cole Porter Songbook CD. Dave has played with Jack Sheldon’s Quartet and Big Band since 1991 and is on Jack’s 2007 CD, “Listen Up”. Richie Cole has featured Dave on drums and vocals, and Cole has arranged two of Dave’s original songs for the band.
Joe Bagg studied with the legendary jazz pianist Kenny Barron at Rutgers University where he obtained his Masters Degree in Music. After that he spent some time in the Army as a Russian linguist stationed in Germany, moving back to the states to California where he has been fixture on the Los Angeles jazz scene. In 1997, Joe started playing the Hammond B-3 organ, earning several appearances in downbeat magazine’s Critics and Readers Polls. Recently, he was featured performing on screen in the Clint Eastwood movies J. Edgar and Jersey Boys.
Since arriving in Los Angeles, Joe has been sought after by an impressive range of prominent musicians including Bobby Hutcherson, Bill Holman, Billy Higgins, Anthony Wilson, Charles McPherson, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Jack Sheldon, Larry Coryell, Alphonse Mouzon, Madeleine Peyroux, Pete Christlieb, Alan Ferber, Bruce Forman, Larry Koonse, Jon Gordon, Arthur Blythe, Gerry Gibbs, Eric Alexander, Ralph Moore, Brian Lynch and many others. He has taught at a number of colleges and universities over the years, but currently teaches in the Bachelor Degree department at Musician’s Institute where he enjoys teaching classes, private lessons and coaching ensembles. He also maintains a busy gigging and recording schedule.
Tom Wakeling has put his bass to work in a 40-plus year career that’s seen him perform in major concert halls, leading jazz nightclubs, and recording studios throughout Europe and North America.Tom’s bass versatility has supported a wide range of internationally-known artists including Arturo Sandoval, Lee Konitz, Mel Torme, James Moody, Herb Ellis, Mose Allison, Charlie Rouse, Houston Person, Ernie Watts, Carl Fontana, Herb Geller, Della Reese, Red Skelton, Rich Little, Mickey Rooney, the Fifth Dimension, and many others in jazz and pop music alike. Tom’s work in ‘show biz’ includes playing in the orchestras of national touring shows such as “Cats”, “A Chorus Line”, the Joffrey Ballet, ‘Grease’, and “Damn Yankees” (with Jerry Lewis).
Wakeling served as Chair of the Music Department at Clackamas Community College in Portland, Oregon for many years. The college is known for its excellent Music and Music Technology programs.
PHOTOS OF THE MARIA SCHAFER CD RELEASE CONCERT NOW POSTED
Mundell Lowe with CalJAS President Dale Boatman
Born and raised in Seattle, Gazarek grew up without much exposure to jazz. She denotes any and all preliminary jazz education to her high school big band and choir director, Scott Brown. “He afforded us a lot of educational opportunities at festivals and competitions,” Gazarek remembers. As a senior in high school, she was awarded the first ever Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation Outstanding Jazz Vocalist Award at the Essentially Ellington Festival in NYC. “I guess you could say my first gig was at Avery Fisher Hall with Wynton Marsalis,” Gazarek chuckles.
Sara made her way south to Los Angeles in 2000 and found herself at the prestigious Thornton School of Music at USC, studying under the tutelage of John Clayton, Shelly Berg, Tierney Sutton, and Carmen Bradford. While there, Sara helped develop the JazzReach program and, as a result, was able to spend 2 years working with inner city elementary school children as a jazz choir director. “I’ll never forget that experience. It is so important to me to be out there, educating young people.” Sara continues to educate young people today as the sole ambassador for the non-profit music and arts education organization, Music For All. Sara and her band give clinics at local schools while on tour, because, as Gazarek puts it, “education is such an important part of our lives, and the band and I know we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that one teacher who showed us the way. It is our duty to give back.”
In 2003, Sara was awarded the 2003 Downbeat Student Music Award for Best Collegiate Vocalist. Shortly after the publication hit the press, Sara was asked to perform with Oleta Adams, Karrin Allyson, and Diane Schuur as the “as yet undiscovered talent” on the Concord Jazz Festival tour. Simultaneously, Gazarek joined a number of a-list clientele (including Barry Manilow and Allyson) as a Stiletto Entertainment (management) client and was soon being booked by the industrious William Morris Agency. “I remember feeling very nervous about it all,” Sara recalls. “I’d had it drilled into me that a strong career at a young age was a fast track to obscurity.”
Luckily, at a time when it would have been easy for Gazarek to lose track of her artistic goals, John Clayton, a mentor and teacher at USC, provided a grounding influence. When record labels first came knocking and she started to question her place, it was Clayton who set her straight. “He said, ‘Sara, everyone has his or her own path, and there’s no path that’s any more respectable than any other,’” she recalls. “‘As long as you do your homework and keep striving to be a better musician, you’ll have a lasting career.’”
Clayton agreed to produce her first album, Yours, and insisted she develop the arrangements herself with the band she’d been performing with. She found musical soul mates in her group, and the resulting record was a debut that was released to national and international rave reviews. It ranked in the Top 10 on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Charts, Top 10 on the iTunes top Jazz Album Downloads (US, UK, Switzerland, and Belgium), #1 on the iTunes Top Jazz Album Downloads (Germany, France), #5 on the Jazz Week Radio Charts, #4 on the HMV (Japan) chart. In addition, Sara was voted the #3 Best New Artist in the JazzTimes Readers Poll.
With her strong sense of gratitude, this talented, graceful, constantly evolving, emotionally direct, label-pushing vocalist will continue to “do her homework.” And judging by her second album, Sara Gazarek is going to have a lot to offer the music scene for many years to come.|
Born into a musical family, Larry has been playing the guitar since he was seven years old. In his early years he studied with legendary guitar master Jimmy Wyble, and at the age of fifteen he recorded an album with his father, guitarist Dave Koonse, entitled Dave and Larry Koonse; father and son jazz guitars. In 1984, Larry was the first recipient of a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California.
Larry has toured with Mel Torme, Bob Brookmeyer, Billy Childs, John Patitucci, David Friesen, Karrin Allyson, Luciana Souza, Natalie Cole, Bob Mintzer, Tierney Sutton, Peter Erskine, Hubert Laws, Warne Marsh and was a featured performer with the Percy Faith Orchestra on a tour of Japan.
At the invitation of Nelson Mandela and UNICEF, Larry traveled to South Africa to perform for the first annual SAMIX festival with the Steve Houghton quintet. He also performed with Gary Willis in Sao Paulo for a government sponsored concert at SESC Ipiranga. In his travels, he has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Academy of Music, Disney Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and has been a featured soloist with the L.A. Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and many other orchestras throughout the world.
Having been featured on over 300 albums, Larry has recorded with Cleo Laine, Al Hirt, Jimmy Rowles, Bob Brookmeyer, Luciana Souza, Lee Konitz, Larry Goldings, Mel Torme, Alan Broadbent, Ray Brown, Bill Perkins, Toots Thielemanns, Rod Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, David Friesen, Bob Sheppard, Warne Marsh, Charlie Haden, Natalie Cole and many other jazz artists. His solo guitar work was featured throughout “Crazy”, a feature film chronicling the life of the great guitarist Hank Garland.
The founder of the Player’s School, the renown bassist Jeff Berlin, contacted Larry in 1995 to write a guitar curriculum which is currently used for their program. He was co-leader of the L.A. Jazz Quartet which released their fourth CD, Conversation Piece (NAXOS Records) in September, 2000. The quartet’s first three CD’s, Astarte (GOWI), Look To The East (NAXOS), and Family Song (NTR), have received critical acclaim for their originality and musical depth. Larry’s most recent recording, Conversations, a CD featuring the great pianist David Roitstein in a set of originals and standards, is now available through Jazz Compass (www.jazzcompass.com). He has four other releases on the Jazz Compass label: Americana (a recording featuring Scott Colley on the bass), Dialogues of the Heart (featuring his father Dave Koonse in a guitar duo setting), Storybook (featuring the bassist Darek Oles), and What’s in the Box, featuring the music of the great guitarist/composer Jimmy Wyble in various settings. Larry has been a faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts since 1990.