Bob Mintzer, Don Sebesky, for more straight ahead stuff check out Rob McConnell. If you can find it, check out Ed Palermo Big Band Plays Frank Zappa. Enjoy.
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Mingus Big Band! Hands down, the most organic, most passionate, most musical (esp when led by Steve Slagle). Mingus is one of the greatest composer's as well as band leaders of last century.Huge songbook, so many alumni of mingus in the band. Sue is great in how she support's em. Can't miss. Bob Minzter's collective is hit/miss. Mingus is THE source! The recording's (esp Live) are supperb, both soundstage wise(audiophile terms apply), and in terms of the RIGHT spirit!
If you want to hear some of the most adventurous and dynamic big-band music recorded in the past 20 years, you need to pick up a few of the CD's on the Black Saint / Soul Note label done in the 1980's by the David Murray Octet and band. Amazing stuff. Carla Bley also did some great stuff during the past 15 years or so. If you have not listened to the various recordings by Sun Ra's Arkestra, this is a good time to do so, since a number of his hard-to-find recordings have recently been re-mastered and released again. Last, check out the Charles Mingus Big Band, which has been doing some very tasty, challenging work.
This is great. Some of the suggestions make me go, duh, what’s the matter with me—I knew that. But I’ve lost touch, and the ideas don’t come as fluidly as they used to. ….. I didn’t know Jones & Lewis are gone – see what I mean. Mingus Big Band – knew of Sue Mingus’ project but have not taken the time to plug in – must rectify that ASAP. ….. sdcampbell, is that David Murray with octet plus other pieces? I like(d) Carla Bley a lot, back in the day when I was more current; that’s a good tip. I have some Sun Ra and saw his Arkestra a couple times – space is still the place. ….. People always come up with unexpected angles! I like Latin stuff – I should check out Hot House. (Triggered a fond memory of some Dizzy Gillespie with Afro-Cuban bands.) Kid Creole & the Coconut?--makes me chuckle. Cornfed, I agree – they were so cool. It's a good practice to sing “I’m a Wonderful Thing, Baby” to your wife now and then. Can this Ed Palermo make Zappa swing? ... I’ve taken note of everyone’s suggestions. Thank you all very much.
Seems like you folks have a pretty good handle on the US big band scene (Mingus BB, Maria Scneider, etal.) so I'd like to suggest something from our European friends. From Holland there's Pierre Dorge and New Jungle Orchestra - a wonderful group that's been together since the mid 1980's. From Vienna there's the Vienna Art Orchestra, another long lived ensemble. And from England there's Brotherhood of Breath. Germany brings us Klaus Konig and Italy has The Italian Insatible Orchestra. Plus there are quite a few more, if you're interested just drop me an email.
Jayboard: The David Murray recordings from the '80's on Black Saint / Soul Note featured both his octet and his big band. If you are a relatively experienced jazz listener with a sense of adventure, you should find the Murray recordings a lot of fun. One of the posts above mentioned some European bands, and I thought I'd add to the list: check out the Willem Breuker Collectif - fun, zany stuff. Another band that I had some fun with is The Microseptic Septet, which is sort of an American version of the Brueker Collectif.