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Marcus Belgrave The New Detroit Jazz Orchestra

Marcus Belgrave The New Detroit Jazz Orchestra image
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The big jaz band has been an important feature of the Music of Detroit ever since Don Redman was brought here to serve as musical director for the McKinney's Cotton Pickers orchestra in the early 20's. In recent years we have been blessed with such stellar big bandsas the New McKinney's Cotton Pickers, the Jimmy Wilkins Orchestra, the Motown road and studio bands, Eddie Nucilli's Plural Circle, the Austin-Moro Band, the Sound of Detroit Orchestra organied by Strata Records for last year's can Festival, and a number of others, most being dedicated to preserving and extending the musical advances of past eras n jazz, or to reworking popular song material n a jazz vein. With the formation of the New Detroit Jazz Orchestra, directed by trumpet star Marcus Belgrave, the Motor City now has a forward-looking big band of young players with its roots in the jazz of the 50's and 60's and 70's, and ts branches stretching out nto the future of the form, Featurng compositions by Freddie Hubbard ("Back Lash"), Wayne Shorter ("Torn Thumb"), Bob james ("Piece of Mind"), Thad Jones ("Little Pixie Two"), and Maurice White ("Reasons"), and arrangements and original compositions by DetroitersSam Sanders ("Zaire"), Eddie Nucilli ("God Bics' the Child"), pianist )ohn Katalanic, and Belgrave himsell ("Dedication"), this exuberant collection of young student musicians displays so much promise and dedication ihat t's almost frightening -and certainly very exhilarating, to say the least. Thirty-throe musicians between the ages of 13 and 26 sharc the responsibifïties of the Orchestra, which uses a 4-trombone, 4-trumpet, piano-bass-drums-guitat-and-percussion set-up with as many as seven saxophone players n front (eight reeds, with the addition of flutist odi Lent) and Marcus himself adding his masterful solos to the mix from his conductor's post. At the Langston Hughes concerts the Orchestra offered spirked (though otten raggeay) reaaings 01 me complex modern charls and a numbcr of highly promising soloists, particularly james Lockett (alto saxophone), Eddie Taylor (trumpet and flugelhom), Charles Russell (drums), Sonebeyatta Amungo (congas and vocal on "Reasons"), and the always satisfying Belgrave. Above and beyond everything else, though, t was the sight and sound of these eager young players coping with the airangements, taking wnat wcre ror a numoer oí mem their very first solos n public, responding to Marcus's energetc direction, and feeding off the energy of their comrades and their audience which made the concerts a very special kind of event. One couldn't help but have faith in the future of the music here while watching these exciting young performers do their thing, and the more this band gets to play for its public, the more secure that future will be. Let's hear them again soon- again and again and again!