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jazzfan's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Gerald Wilson

A very big thank you to Robert Baird for the feature on Gerald Wilson. This piece such go a long way in helping to give some much needed and well deserved exposure to Mr. Wilson and his music.

I have just a few very minor nits to pick. As stated in the piece big band jazz has been sadly overlooked in the US but that luckily that is not the case elsewhere. There are several very good jazz orchestras in Europe, all with long recording and performance histories. To name a few of the more well known ones:

Vienna Art Orchestra - Started in 1977 by Mathias Rüegg the VAO has a long history of recording and playing. The VAO is perhaps the best example of a modern jazz orchestra in the 21st century.

The Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra - another long running ensemble. While their output is nowhere near as extensive as that of the VAO, this orchestra, lead by the great German pianist and band leader Alexander von Schlippenbach, plays jazz in slightly more adventurous vein than that of the VAO.

Italian Instabile Orchestra - another one of the more adventurous European ensembles, this group is favorite of many creative musicians looking for a group of talented musicians willing to give voice to their orchestral compositions.

The Instant Composers Pool (or ICP) - this Amsterdam based ensemble was the brain child of Dutch pianist Misha Mengelberg back in 1967 and seen many of the finest creative musicians in Europe and the USA pass through it ranks in its 40 plus year history. Their recordings are all too few and often hard to find but their live performances are the stuff of legends.

My other minor issue is with Mr. Baird's assertion that WBGO-FM is "one of the nation's first all-jazz FM stations". While somewhat true this statement overlooks WRVR-FM, the now defunct all-jazz, commercial New York City radio station, which was on the air throughout the 1960s and 1970s playing jazz. Sadly in 1980 the station changed to a short lived country music format and now is part of that vast wasteland known as "lite music".

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