Ed Puddick in Colorado, Part IIb : ISJAC Symposium Day 2

Friday 17th May, 2019

The afternoon of the second day of the ISJAC Symposium 2019 was to be ‘poster session’, in which I was going to be able to present my music to any delegates who wanted to listen. There were a few of us on the shuttle bus that morning with cases, bags and (in Sebastian Bailey’s case) huge cardboard tubes! I wasn’t sure how my display board would compare with others’ but it was clearly going to be an interesting afternoon.

First though, was the small matter of presentations by Christine Jensen, Dave Rivello, Ron Miles and Bill Frisell! Christine talked about some music that made up the “Under The Influence Suite” which she had written for the Orchestre National de Jazz Montreal. Her focus on the story that inspired the music was fascinating, and seemed almost more important than the musical or technical aspects of the work. The recording of this suite, and her album ‘Habitat’ immediately joined my listening list!

After Christine’s talk we headed upstairs to the Panorama Room for a talk on the compositional exercises of Bob Brookmeyer, presented by Dave Rivello of the Eastman School of Music (pictured). He had studied with Brookmeyer and spent many hours interviewing the great composer about his approach to writing. Dave’s talk was very professional, extremely well prepared and got everyone in the audience scribbling in their notebooks or tapping on their laptops! He shared with us some of Bob’s own sketches as well as his own efforts at the exercises Brookmeyer was teaching. You can find more about Dave’s project “Bob Brookmeyer in conversation” on ArtistShare. Later in the day I had the opportunity to speak to Dave and thank him for his talk. He was very gracious and I told him how I hope to include some of the material from his talk in my own teaching from September.

Following Dave’s presentation we all headed back to the glamorously named ‘Muli-Purpose Room” for an intimate presentation by trumpeter Ron Miles and Guitarist Bill Frisell (pictured right). They started by playing a couple of tunes, highlighting their wonderful musicianship and Ron’s ability to write songs (as he called them) that don’t follow traditional forms. He showed us how he presents his tunes across full pages of A3 manuscript. Neither man was particularly keen to talk on the microphone but they both took time to talk about their approaches to composition and answered questions from the audience. I even put my hand up to ask Ron about how he balances the demands of instrumental practice and composition, and whether knowing that he is going to have to play his own compositions effects what he writes. At the end of their time I waited to speak to Bill Frisell because I knew that my mentor Mike Gibbs would never forgiven me if I didn’t take the opportunity to introduce myself to Bill! He was very friendly and keen to talk about Mike. He seemed pleased that I had taken the time to stop and chat.

It was then time for me to head to the room being used for the Poster Session to set up my display in readiness for the afternoon. Having never presented a poster before I didn’t know what to expect and I had brought a whole suitcase full of items that could possibly get pinned to the board. It took me a long time to get my display right but eventually the board was full, as you can see in the picture below! Before heading off to get some lunch I took the time to walk around the room and look at the other boards. Fellow presenters included Sebastian Bailey (who I had met on the bus in the morning), Robert Beasley, David Binkley, Sarah Jerrom, Derek James Molacek and Greg Runions – who had the stand next to mine. I was amazed by the quality of everyone’s presentations and the amount of research that so many had put in to their work.

After lunch there was one more talk to attend before the poster session was due to start. This was the small matter of Vince Mendoza and John Clayton offering their feedback to six composers who had offered up their music as part of the New Music Workshops. This was a fascinating session and I was really interested to see how Vince and John would respond to the difficult task of giving ‘live’ feedback to the composers involved. We listened to each piece and followed a PDF score that was projected on the big screen. I made my own notes as we listened and then compared my views with those of the two experts. I was reassured that many of the comments I would have made to the composers were reflected in what John and Vince were saying. In particular, Vince’s emphasis on the “energy” and “flow” of the works were very interesting.

The time had come for the poster session and I was really looking forward to talking to anyone who would listen about my writing for the Ed Puddick Big Band since 2002. When the doors were open, a large number of people came in to the room and (after helping themselves to some of the free snacks) made their way around the room. I was determined to give away as many CDs as I could and was very pleased when several people stopped to listen to tracks on the headsets and look at scores. Richard DeRosa came over to say hello and give me one of his CDs. He introduced me to Richard Sussman (who also had a poster session discussing the book that he wrote with Michael Abene) and it turned out that all three of us were former students of the great Mike Gibbs!

The other person that I spoke to during the afternoon was Rick Lawn, who I had been in touch with prior to the Symposium as I was hoping to get a copy of his new book “Jazz Scores and Analysis“. Rick was very interesting to speak to and offered to meet later that evening to swap a copy of his book for a copy of my Guys & Dolls CD! This was an offer I could not refuse so I made sure I kept hold of one copy of my album…I managed to give away all the others.

My poster board was much quicker to take down than it was to put up so Greg (Runions) and I were able to head back to the hotel to drop off our cases so we didn’t have too much luggage with us for the concert in the evening. The concert was to be the Colorado Jazz Orchestra with Vince Mendoza. This performance was fantastic, and deserves a post all of its own! As well as the amazing compositions of Vince, it was great to hear the playing of Drew Zaremba as he and the rest of the band made some very difficult music (which I had heard in rehearsal just a couple of evenings previously) sound so easy! Watching Vince direct his music was interesting. His conducting style is quite unique and a great demonstration of how a large jazz ensemble should be directly – something for my GSMD conducting students!

The atmosphere in the hotel bar after the concert was euphoric as everyone was so inspired by the day’s activities and what they had just witnessed. It was great to spend a few hours chatting with new friends and looking forward to the third and final day of the Symposium tomorrow.

Ed Puddick in Colorado, Part IIa : ISJAC Symposium Day 1

Thursday 16th May, 2019

The first day of the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers’ 2019 Symposium happened to fall on my 39th birthday. After another early breakfast, I was keen to get to the venue for the Symposium; UNC’s Campus Commons. I was fortunately to get a lift with trombonist Eli Ponder-Twardy, who had spent time studying at Leeds College of Music in the UK.  We got there in plenty of time to register and get a cup of tea (I wonder if you have to ask for “hot tea” in other parts of the US?).  I was introduced to ISJAC chair Chuck Owen (with whom I had exchanged some emails in the months leading up to the Symposium) and his ISJAC colleague Dave Stamps. Everyone was really looking forward to things getting underway.

For the first presentation of the day Christine Jensen was joined Dana Landry conducting the UNC Jazz Lab Band 1 (pictured left), playing and analysing Carla Bley’s epic “On The Stage In Cages”. This was an interesting session and a great opportunity to hear the best students from UNC play one of Carla Bley’s greatest works. A great way to start the Symposium.

Next up was a presentation by Ladd McIntosh (pictured right), on how he started his career as a Hollywood Orchestrator by writing some jazz arrangements for the 1992 Tom Hanks film “A League Of Their Own”. After his presentation I ended up talking to Ladd and his wife for nearly an hour, which meant I missed the next session but it was great to hear about his life and career in LA.

At 4pm Chuck Owen introduced Vince Mendoza (pictured below). Vince’s talk was funny, detailed and enlightening, and much more technical than anyone expected. He talked about line-writing, rhythmic displacement and contrast, and the structure, shape and ‘energy’ of arrangements. It was really fascinating and a unique insight into the work of this master composer/arranger. I think everyone in that room will remember Vince’s words for a very long time.

Then it was time for a drinks reception in the Panorama Room at UNC, with great views of the Rocky Mountains, and the thunder storms that were rolling around that afternoon. I sat and chatted a bit more with Ladd McIntosh, and introduced myself to a few other but it was soon time to head down to the concert hall for the first of three headline concerts, in which cornet player, Ron Miles and his quartet were joined the one and only Bill Frisell. This concert was really enjoyable. Some of Ron’s compositions are very beautiful and Bill Frisell played them brilliantly. However, my mind had been blown by Vince Mendoza so somehow, I knew this was not going to be my favourite gig of the Symposium!

Later that evening, back at the hotel, I had a great pleasure of sitting next to John Clayton while we ate dinner in the hotel bar. We chatted about many things, including the great players that he has known and worked with, but I told him how I like to use the unison saxophone line he wrote in his arrangement of his own composition “Reverence” as part of my arranging classes. He told me that he had originally written that tune for an album with Milt Jackson called “Reverence and Compassion”, and that the saxophone soli I was referring to was his idea of what Lester Young might have played over that tune. Now that’s a story to tell my students when I introduce them to that chart next term!

I could have chatted with John all night but we were both aware that there was an early start in the morning and still two days of the Symposium to go, so we said goodnight. It had been a great day, and I couldn’t think of a better way of spending my 39th Birthday!

To be continued…

Ed Puddick in Colorado, Part I : University of Northern Colorado (UNC)

Monday 13th – Wednesday 15th May, 2019

My journey to the 2019 ISJAC Symposium in Greeley, Colorado started in familiar surroundings as my wife dropped me off in the Berkshire village of Theale on the morning of Monday the 13th of May. Usually when getting the train from Theale, I would be wearing my smart teaching clothes, on the way to either the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire or the Guildhall, but today I had my comfortable ‘flying suit’ on (elasticated trousers and hoodie) and was travelling to Heathrow Airport to get my first ever flight to the USA.

Having got the train to Reading and a coach to Heathrow, I finally arrived in my seat on flight BA219, and after nine hours of in-flight entertainment I stepped out into the sunshine at Denver International Airport. The weather was beautiful, but I only had a short time to enjoy it as I was soon on the move again, the Greeley Shuttle taking me to the front door of my destination, the DoubleTree hotel in downtown Greeley.

I didn’t want to waste a single moment of my time in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, so I was determined to find a way to avoid any jet lag. My chosen tactic was to stay up as late as possible on the first night. I managed to keep my eyes open (thanks to a few beers in the hotel bar) until what would have been 5.30am in the UK before admitting defeat and heading for bed. When woke up at 6am (local time) on Tuesday I was delighted to feel like my approach had paid off!

As part of the planning of my trip I had contacted and arranged to meet Drew Zaremba (Assistant Professor of Music at UNC) for lunch at 12.30 so I had a few hours that first morning to explore my new surroundings. After a hearty ‘Skillet Deluxe’ (potatoes, bacon, asparagus, cheese, etc.) for breakfast at the hotel I headed out into the sunshine for a walk. Within yards of the hotel I was reassured to see some of the classic American sights I had hoped for, including a yellow school bus! Then I heard a train moving slowly along the line that runs through the centre of the town, blowing its distinctive A7#9 horn as it traversed the many level-crossings. I got close enough to film the train on my phone, something I am normally resistant to doing but my tourist instincts took over!

After the train and its many wagons had departed, I stumbled across a cafe called Cranford’s Tea Tavern, about which the hotel barman had told me the night before. Perfect! I sat for almost an hour sipping a slightly bizarre ‘Pina Colada’ flavoured tea and watching the people of Greeley go about their business, before heading back to the hotel to do a couple of hours work on my ‘Peterloo’ commission (more details to coming soon).

At midday I went down to the lobby to wait for Drew, who had generously offered to come and meet me at the hotel. Thanks to the magic of Facebook we recognised each other straight away and immediately started thinking about our plans for the rest of the afternoon. We started by walking just around the corner from the hotel, to an Indian restaurant for a buffet lunch. We talked about our musical backgrounds and current professional and teaching work, as well as our expectations for the week ahead. We hit it off just as I had hoped, and it was then that I knew I was really going to enjoy my visit. After lunch we got in the car and Drew showed me Campus Commons, UNC’s newly built multi-purpose performance venue that would be hosting the ISJAC Symposium, starting on Thursday.

After a quick detour to Drew’s house to pick up his lap-top, we headed over to the University’s main music complex. We visited the impressive Skinner Music Library, which featured a display introducing all the artists who had performed at the recent UNC Jazz Festival. The music library includes an archive of more than 7000 jazz recordings.

Next door to the Skinner library is the main music teaching facility Frasier Hall, which is shared with the School of Theatre Arts and Dance and includes the Langworthy Theatre. Unfortunately, some areas were not accessible because of the fitting of a new sprinkler system. However, Drew was able to show me some of the teaching/rehearsal spaces (in which we found several PG students preparing for their performances as part of the Symposium) and the astonishing Jazz Library. This small room consisted of several rolling racks of shelving, holding hundreds of big band charts from every composer and arranger you could imagine. There were also piles of new arrangements, waiting to be added to the library. This archive clearly demonstrated the tradition on which the ‘band’ structure of the jazz programme at UNC (and many other American universities) is based. Walking about that building, it felt like jazz was at the heart of the musical activity of the school.

Drew and I then went and sat in his office and discussed the type of listening that we ask our students to do in relationship to jazz composition and arranging. We found that we shared the same views on many of the most important artists, while both being able to name writers that the other had not heard of! We sat there for a good couple of hours, listening to music and discussing our approaches to writing and teaching but eventually it was time for me to return to the hotel and for Drew to head home. We were going to be seeing each other again at the Symposium so there would be plenty of other opportunities for us to continue our conversation.

The next day, I had another early breakfast in the hotel before deciding to head out in search of somewhere to buy a pair of shorts, with the temperatures look set to hit 30 degrees and stay warm for the rest of the week. Having not hired a car, I soon found out that distances in America are always further than they look on the map. I headed out with the intention of walking to a shopping district which, on the small screen of my phone, looked pretty close by, but as time went on I began to realise why I had been seeing so few pedestrians on the streets of Greeley – it’s clearly a place where the car is king. I eventually decided to abandon my quest, but not before I had found a ‘Thrift Store’ which turned out to have exactly what I needed; some shorts, a t-shirt and a cap, and all for just $8! I thought this was going to be the ideal wardrobe for a days off later in the week.

When I got back to the hotel at around midday, I received a message from the only other British musicians who I knew was going to be at the Symposium, Simon Lasky. He had just arrived in Greeley and was keen to meet. He was in a coffee shop called Aunt Helen’s. With him were Luke Bornheimer and Chris Berner (a Canadian trumpet player with whom I was to have many breakfasts!), and we sat a chatted for an hour or so.

Drew had mentioned to me that the Colorado Jazz Orchestra would be rehearsing music by Vince Mendoza on Wednesday evening and I had asked if I would be able to come and observe the rehearsal. He got in touch to say that I could come and sit-in so I had decided to eat dinner at the hotel and head over to the rehearsal at about 5.30pm. Chris Berner decided to join me and we heard the band rehearse the music of Vince Mendoza for the concert on Friday evening. The rehearsal was led by David Caffey (ISJAC board member and Professor of Jazz Studies at UNC) and was a great insight into the music being prepared and the rehearsal techniques of the professionals involved, which included Dana Landry (Director of Jazz Studies, UNC), Paul McKee (Professor of Jazz Trombone, University of Colorado Boulder) and Greg Gisbert (trumpet player with the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra).

Following the rehearsal, I joined Drew and his saxophone section colleague Marc Schwartz for a drink at a bar called Tower 56. Drew’s former teacher, Rich DeRosa joined us. He used to play with Gerry Mulligan and was conductor the WDR Big Band for several years. It was a great evening of conversation and laughs, and the perfect way to prepare for the Symposium which would get underway the following morning.

To be continued….

Ed Puddick wins international arranging competition

On Saturday the 25th August, the Barga Jazz Orchestra performed Ed’s arrangement of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma” with US trumpet player Jeremy Pelt. This performance, part of the 2018 BargaJazz Festival, was the final round of the international composition and arranging contest and included six other arrangements of compositions by Dizzy Gillespie. At the end of the concert Ed’s chart was singled out as the best arrangement on the night and awarded first prize.

You can listen to the winning arrangement here : http://embeds.audioboom.com/posts/6984440-con-alma-ed-puddick/embed/v4?eid=AQAAAH_TgVv4kmoA

Or you can listen to all the shortlisted pieces here : http://www.barganews.com/2018/08/26/barga-jazz-festival-2018-2/

Ed Puddick’s arrangement of “Con Alma” shortlisted for BargaJazz competition

Ed Puddick’s arrangement of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma” has been shortlisted along with six other works for this year’s BargaJazz Orchestra composition competition. All seven pieces, designed to feature guest US trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, will be performed on the 25th of August at the Teatro dei Differenti in Barga, Italy, by the BargaJazz Orchestra conducted by Mario Raja.

Ed Puddick joins teaching staff at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

From September 2017 Ed Puddick will be joining the teaching staff at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, where he studied from 2000-2004. Ed will be teaching composition and arranging to students on the jazz course and is looking forward to becoming an integral part of the college. Ed’s former trombone teacher and Head of Jazz at the Conservatoire, Jeremy Price, asked Ed to join his team of tutors after Hans Koller (another of Ed’s former teachers) left to take up the position as Head of Jazz at Trinity Laban. Ed will be enjoying the facilities at the Conservatoire’s brand new building, which includes the only dedicated jazz performance space in Birmingham, the fantastic Eastside Jazz Club.

Ed Puddick arrangements now on Sheet Music Plus

A limited number of Ed Puddick’s arrangements are to appear for the first time on the website Sheet Music Plus. An exclusive variety of titles for large and small jazz ensembles will be available for download. Arrangements already on the site include instrumental big band versions of Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” and the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic “Younger Than Springtime”.

Only Thelonious

2017 marks the centenary of one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time – Thelonious Monk. Born in North Carolina in 1917, Monk became known as a pioneering jazz pianist with a unique style and gained recognition as a highly respected jazz composer, perhaps second only to Duke Ellington.

This year the Ed Puddick Big Band present their own tribute to Monk in a new project called ‘Only Thelonious’. Band-leader Ed Puddick has created innovative new arrangements of 18 of Monk’s most well-known compositions, including “Panonica”, “I Mean You”, “Ruby, My Dear”, “Round Midnight”, “Well You Needn’t” and “In Walked Bud”.

New album featuring Eric Marienthal

Ed’s composition “The Twisted Wheel” has been included on the latest CD release from the Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra, featuring US saxophone superstar Eric Marienthal. Recorded live in front of a packed house at the 2016 Wigan International Jazz Festival, this young big band provide superb backing for Marienthal, who is best known for being a member of Chick Corea’s Grammy Award winning ‘Elektric Band’ and for playing lead alto in Gordon Goodwin’s ‘Big Phat Band’.

The sheet music for this unique composition is now available to buy exclusively here at edpuddick.com