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Bill Kirchner's Recommended Big Band List


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For his advanced composing and arranging students, saxophonist, composer, arranger and educator Bill Kirchner recently compiled a list of recommended big band CDs recorded since 1955. Kirchner teaches at The New School in New York City. Bill agreed to let me share the list with Rifftides readers, who may find some of their favorites but not others.


Muhal Richard Abrams: The Hearinga Suite (Black Saint)

Count Basie: April in Paris, Frankly Basie (both Verve), Chairman of the Board (Roulette)

Carla Bley: Big Band Theory (Watt)

Bob Brookmeyer: New Works--Celebration (Challenge)

Miles Davis-Gil Evans: Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess, Sketches of Spain (all Columbia)

Duke Ellington: The Far East Suite, ...and His Mother Called Him Bill (both RCA/Bluebird)

Don Ellis: Tears of Joy (Columbia/Wounded Bird)

Gil Evans: The Complete Pacific Jazz Sessions (Blue Note), The Individualism of Gil Evans (Verve)

Clare Fischer: Thesaurus (Atlantic/Koch)

Stan Getz: Big Band Bossa Nova (arr. Gary McFarland), Change of Scenes (w/ the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band) (both Verve)

Joe Henderson: Joe Henderson Big Band (Verve)

Woody Herman: Giant Steps (Fantasy/Original Jazz Classics)

Thad Jones-Mel Lewis: Consummation (Blue Note)

Stan Kenton: Contemporary Concepts (Capitol)

Joe Lovano (with the WDR Big Band arr. by Mike Abene): Symphonica (Blue Note)

Charles Mingus: Let My Children Hear Music (Columbia)

Mingus Big Band: The Essential Mingus Big Band (Dreyfus)

Gerry Mulligan: Verve Jazz Masters 36 (Verve)

Oliver Nelson: Verve Jazz Masters 48 (Verve)

Buddy Rich: The New One, Mercy, Mercy (both Pacific Jazz)

Maria Schneider: Evanescence (Enja)

Vanguard Jazz Orchestra: Up From the Skies (arr. Jim McNeely), Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard (both Planet Arts)

Kenny Wheeler: Music for Large and Small Ensembles (ECM)

I suggested to Kirchner that, despite Bill Holman's splendid work on the Kenton Contemporary Concepts album, one of Holman's own CDs should be on the list. He replied,

As much as I respect what he's done on his own, I think that the Kenton CC album shows him at his very best--and is for students the best introduction to Holman's work. (In the same way that Stravinsky did great things all during his career, but never wrote anything “better" than The Rite of Spring.)

If you submit a suggested addition to Bill's list, kindly give a musical justification. For our purposes, “I like it" is not justification. Please use the Comments link at the end of the item. When we receive enough replies, we'll post a followup.

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This story appears courtesy of Rifftides by Doug Ramsey.
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