One of the most impressive debuts was this year's "Architects of Change," by composer and keyboard wiz Spencer Nilsen. Instead of the soporific elevator jazz that often gets commercial play, Nilsen has built a complex wall of sound anchored by relentless pulsing rhythms over which he lays his powerful, synthesized melody lines.
- Checkfield, a studio duo consisting of John Archer and Ron Satterfield (Archer "discovered" Nilsen) came out with "Through the Lens" last year, the band's third album. It doesn't have as much raw spunk as Nilsen's album, but as polished, multitracked studio projects go, this one is state of the art.
Other local light jazz leaders are Neon, featuring Hollis Gentry, and Fattburger. Albums by both bands this year sold well and made it onto radio play lists across the country. The Mark Lessman Band and Flight 7 also released light jazz albums in 1989.
San Diego also has its share of golden era jazz men, players with experience dating back to the big band days.
Band leader Bob Crosby lives in La Jolla. Though he didn't play an instrument or read or write music, Crosby fronted a group of top musicians who defected from leader Ben Pollack in the '30s. With Crosby, they recorded several albums in the '30s and '40s.
Crosby bassist Bob Haggart, of La Costa, has made several albums with trumpeter Yank Lawson in The World's Greatest Jazz Band. They are available by mail (Audiophile Records, 1206 Decatur St., New Orleans 70116).
During the years when Haggart was working with Crosby, San Diego trumpeter John Best was playing and recording with the big bands of Les Brown, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller and others, and many of these albums can still be found.
Several other names belong on this list, though there isn't room to discuss their work in detail: singer Frankie Laine, saxophonist Gary Lefebvre, singer Kevyn Lettau (with Sergio Mendes and Sprague), guitarist (and Padre pitcher) Eric Show, the South Market Street Band (Dixieland; buy their tapes at live dates); Art Resnick; Nelson Riddle Jr.; the San Diego State University Jazz Ensemble; clarinetist Bobby Gordon, Fro Brigham and many others.