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Big-Band Bias

March 13, 1988

Predictably, Leonard Feather shows his usual bias when writing about big bands ("Big Bands: Not an Endangered Species," March 6).

He had an opportunity to point out the sheer number of bands that are playing that are helping to keep the music alive and well in face of the onslaught of rock.

He could have pointed out that local units include Pat Longo, Bill Tole, Ray Anthony, Horace Heidt Jr., Bob Keane and several others. On the East Coast, there are such outfits as Zim Zemarel, Bo Thorpe, Chris Powers, to name a few.

He ignored the outstanding Spitfire Band of Canada. And he gave short shrift to the "ghost" bands that are instrumental in maintaining interest among those who may not wish their big-band music to be totally avant-garde jazz.

That the big bands certainly are not an endangered species is quite true. However, Leonard could certainly have pointed out that a great number of young people of today are engaged in playing in big bands in schools and colleges nation-wide.

In Frederick County, Md., for instance, all six high schools have big bands, and hold a festival each year--and this is happening more and more all across the nation.

Where Feather's prejudice shows is in his apparent belief that only "jazz" bands are viable--and only those that play the style of jazz that he personally approves. He has never been kind, at all, to the dance bands--and it was (and is) those outfits that bring big band music to a broad segment of the public, without which this style of music would be endangered.

JON A. HOLIDAY

North Hollywood

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