Freshening classic jazz


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Trombonist Bill Allred knows how to honor the earliest jazz and the finest in big band swing without sounding dated in any way. He did so with his eight-piece Classic Jazz Band Monday, March 9 in the Charlotte County Jazz Society's concert series in Port Charlotte FL.

The Orlando-based octet is a high-energy outfit that knows how to make the music swing, and then some. “Let's get this party started," the leader said as the band launched into Duke Ellington's “It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" before beginning a first-set examination of Louis Armstrong-associated New Orleans staples, then moving north to Memphis and Chicago, much as the music did in its formative decades.

Allred described New Orleans' Storyville district, where jazz and ragtime were born, as “the first adult theme park" before pianist Randy Morris worked his way through a bit of Jelly Roll Morton ragtime. Trumpeter and singer Bobby Pickwood had very strong features on “West End Blues and “What a Wonderful World."

The second set focused on the big band era, coursing through material from Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Buddy Morrow, sneaking in a bit of the Ray Charles songbook with “Hard-Hearted Hannah," Bob Crosby's Bobcats' “Big Noise from Winnetka" before winding down with a nod to Benny Goodman on “Sing, Sing, Sing."

This version of Allred's band also featured David MacKenzie on reeds, trumpeter Greg Little, trombonist Herb Bruce, bassist Jay Mueller and drummer Dick Maley. 

Allred's band, now in its 25th year, was last in Port Charlotte in December 2011. It was an ideal choice for the jazz society's 25th season, in a concert that drew 400+.

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This story appears courtesy of Ken Franckling's Jazz Notes.
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