I've been thinking of this project since forming The Big Bad Groove Society in 1991. Putting this group of younger big band veterans together with Red Kelly, one of Woody Herman's most colorful sidemen, is a natural. A sharing of the torch from one generation to the other. And Kellys is the undisputed, unofficial big band museum of the Northwest. Everyone stops there on their way through. I'm proud to be able to put the music, musicians, and Kellys all together in this very live recording. "Here we go!"
Red's Intro is just exactly how it happened, Red talking about music he loves.
Fungi Mama is an arrangement of an upbeat calypso we started doing as a trio. The energetic lope builds into a fast burn at the piano solo. Hang on! This is my favorite kind of arrangement. It wrote itself. Party on.
Zolt is a 12-tone composition, with one row repeated in the melody, and a drawn out row in the bass. It was named after an evil bird in an early Steven King novel. I can almost hear the crow's laugh as the groove nears a march-like frenzy, erupting into a drum solo. ,strong>Wet Willy is the kind of tune the band is founded on. A greasyshuffle with an angular harmony of a slippery blues head. Lots of room is given to the soloists, with backgrounds made up on the spot. Just like the big bands of old. (I love that stuff)
Ballad For Two Reds was written for an old friend and a new one, Red Kelly and Red Mitchell, each with a great love of music to share. Old friends themselves, they both made a mark from the bottom of the band.
Beauty And The Beast has always been one of my favorite tunes, letting jazz musicians play things they don't often get to play. The band does a great job of setting two different moods, neither of which have anything to do with a cartoon.
In Blue Monk, I was able to layer Monk's classic melody over the low trombone of Woody's theme song, 'Blue Flame', paying respect to two of my favorites. I have often referred to this combination as "Blue Flaming Monks." I wonder if Woody and Monk ever played together. (It could have happened.)
Rush Hour is so titled not because of it's lightning tempo, but because I was stuck in traffic when I wrote it. This is the shorter break tune version. The audience is a little shocked by the tune, and before they can recover, it's over, leaving them stunned. Lovely, huh?
A Walk With Chauncy is another 'program piece', based on a character portrayed by Peter Sellers in the movie Being There. Chauncy was a kind hearted simpleton thrown into a very complex world. Here the melody is Chauncy and the chords are the world around him.
I wrote Llama Farm while on a motorcycle trip through southern Washington. On a quiet back road I came upon a farm with a field of llamas out front. They would lope around, then dart to the other side, then prance around some, and then jump like frogs. It was the strangest thing, so of course it became a tune. I had to stop a few miles down the road to put it on paper. If you squint while listening you might see one of 'em run by. We had many reports that night of listeners who had seen 'em.
Get Smart ends the set right, swingin' hard, tongue in cheek. Wouldn't the world be nice if everybody swung hard with their tongues in their cheeks? I think so.
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