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Childers shows more is better

With an ensemble of locally based soloists, trumpeter illustrates what big bands can do.

September 24, 2003|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

The big band is the symphony orchestra of jazz -- one of the most vital sounds of 20th century American music. So it's not surprising that this musical cornucopia of sounds, textures and rhythms continues to fascinate musicians and listeners, even at a time when the economics of the entertainment world make it difficult to maintain 15- to 20-piece ensembles.

Fortunately, jazz clubs around the nation have helped keep the tradition alive by devoting one or two nights a week -- usually Sunday or Monday -- to big jazz band performances. The Jazz Bakery is the latest venue to continue the practice. And the appearance by the Buddy Childers Big Band on Monday confirmed the great value of this music -- both historically and for its sheer entertainment value.

Childers is a trumpeter with a long big-band track record, most notably with Stan Kenton, but also with Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey and numerous others. The arrangements he wrote for his own 17-piece ensemble were extensions of that early experience -- smoothly danceable in the ballads, lively and rhythmic in the swing-oriented up-tempo numbers.

The soloing, in an aggregation that was a virtual all-star collection of Southland players, was first-rate, featuring exceptional offerings from pianist Christian Jacob, alto saxophonist Ann Patterson, guitarist Jamie Findley and trumpeter Ron Stout, among many others.

Another tradition of the big-band era was the presence of singers as part of the mix -- think Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Dinah Shore etc. The Childers band vocalist was Tierney Sutton -- a worthy successor. Her musicality, lyrical insightfulness and rhythmic drive added the perfect topping to a bountiful evening of big-band sounds.

Next Monday's performance by Bob Florence's Limited Edition will also celebrate the release of a new CD.


Bob Florence, Limited Edition

Where: The Jazz Bakery, 3233 Helms Ave., Culver City

When: Monday, 8 and 9:30 p.m.

Price: $18

Contact: (310) 271-9039

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