Welcome to News & Views on BillyKerr.com. The purpose of this section is to have a place for Billy to post articles, news about events pertaining to him, his quintet or any other group with which he’s involved. In addition, you might find some comments about a musician or group that Billy finds interesting.

Please check us out from time to time to see what’s new in News & Views.

July 6, 2011 Volume 1 - #5

Well, it’s been over a year since my last entry in News & Views and it has been an action-packed year.  In May, The Los Angeles Jazz Institute held its semi-annual Big Band Festival near LAX.  The theme for the festival was East Coast Sounds, and featured the music of Gerry Mulligan, Gil Evans, Al Cohn & Zoot Sims, and Maynard Ferguson.  In addition, concerts featured bands led by Terry Gibbs, Johnny Mandel and Don Menza.  I played with the Teddy Charles Tentet and the closing concert featuring Bob Brookmeyer.  Long regarded as one of the great musical minds of the last four or five decades, Brookmeyer conducted a concert of his forward-looking music, played by a band of the best musicians Los Angeles has to offer.  As a testament to Brookmeyer’s stature as a musician, sitting in the front row were Bill Holman and Johnny Mandel.  The concert was a great success and a fitting way to end the festival.  

In August, 2010 The National Flute Association (NFA) held their annual convention in Anaheim, CA.  The conventions run for three days and cover the gamut of all things concerning the world of flutes.  I was there under the auspices of the Pearl Flute Company, and was privileged to be involved with the Flute Big Band reading session.  The Flute Big Band, the brainchild of Ali Reyerson, generally runs a concert and a new music reading session on alternate years.  In 2010, I was commissioned by the NFA to write two pieces for the big band.   The first piece was an adaptation of Pavane by Gabrial Faure, and the second, a reworking of Four Brothers, by Jimmy Guiffre.  Los Angeles saxophonist, arranger/composer Roger Neumann also contributed two charts for the session, which attracted seventy-five flutists plus rhythm section. 

Sadly, I won’t be able to attend the convention this year, which will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina from August 10 – 14.  The good news is that the Flute Big Band will be having a reading session and a concert as well as a spot on the Saturday night Gala Concert. That concert opens with a specially commissioned piece by composer/pianist extraordinaire, Mike Wofford. The piece titled Tapestry 39 is written for strings, flute choir and flute big band and features jazz flutist, Holly Hoffman.  My two pieces are scheduled as well for performance on the FBB concert. 

In March, 2011, the Ron King Big Band went back to Jakarta, Indonesia for the fourth time as the resident big band for the sixth annual Java Jazz Festival.  This year’s festival featured Roy Hargrove, Eric Marienthal, Chuck Loeb, Bob James as well as George Duke and George Benson.  We played our own concerts in addition to a sensational concert with The New York Voices.  We have had the pleasure of performing with the Voices and Manhattan Transfer on several occasions, two of the very best jazz vocal groups anywhere.  Incidentally, many of the concerts performed at the Java Jazz Festivals are available on DVD.  You can check the Java Jazz web-site for titles.

One of the more interesting and esoteric projects in which I’ve been involved was the recording of a CD titled Music for Saxophones and Harp.  The recording came about after a concert produced by the West Coast Composer’s Forum in May, 2010.  The entire project was the brainchild of composer Ross Wright, in connection with six other composers.  The idea of the concert was to present new compositions written for six saxophones (one each from sopranino down to bass) and harp.  Following the successful concert, the composers decided to record the music and make their compositions available through their own individual publishing companies. 

Beside Wright, the composers are Chuck Fernandez, Kim Richmond, Rob Kyle, Lou Rovner, Clifford Tasner and Joe Sorce.  The musicians are Kelley Hart – sopranino, Billy Kerr – soprano, Kim Richmond – alto, Rob Kyle – tenor, Brian Williams – baritone, Jay Mason - bass and Alison Bjorkendal – harp. 

The CD is due to be released in the early part of this summer and promises to be something very special.  You can contact me to get information on purchasing the CD and written music. 

Another recording project in the works is that of The Lou Rovner Small Big Band.  Lou’s ten-piece band has been playing gigs in clubs and concerts in L. A. for the last few years.  Lou decided to record the band and will complete a CD by the end of the year.  In the meantime, three tunes have been recorded and can be purchased individually at www.LouRovnerMusic.com.  The music is truly a combination of big and small band fare with the emphasis on color.  The saxes include Kim Richmond, myself and Jim Youngstrom on alto, tenor and baritone respectively, plus woodwind doubles.  The brass includes Kye Palmer and Ron Stout – trumpets/flugehorns and Charlie Morillas – trombone/bass trombone.  The rhythm section consists of Louis Durra – piano, Doug MacDonald – guitar, Randy Landas – bass and Steve Barnes – drums.   

In April I became the newest member of The Bill Holman Band here in L. A., fulfilling one of my secret goals since I first moved to L. A. eleven years ago.  Playing with this musical giant and his great band, on the high side of musical excellence, is as good as it gets. 

Speaking of the Holman band, we did a concert at the L. A. Jazz Institute’s Big Band Festival in May.  The title of this festival was Big Band Olympics/Celebrating Big Bands from Around the World.  My wife Nancy Newman and I played with vibraphonist Tommy Vig who came in from Hungary for the festivities.  Arturo Sandavol, Valery Ponomarev, and Christian Jacob led bands as well.  In addition, there was a tribute to Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass and a special reunion concert of the Toshiko Akiyoshi – Lew Tabackin West Coast Big Band.   

In August, The International Clarinet Association will be holding Clarinet Fest, 2011 in Los Angeles.  The festival will run from August 3 – 7 at the Valley Performing Arts Center, on the campus of California State University, Northridge, with Julia Heinen and William Powell serving as co-artistic directors.  The festival will present concerts, master classes, lectures and displays by vendors of all descriptions dealing with clarinets and clarinet performance.  Some of the clarinetists scheduled to perform include Stanley and Naomi Drucker, Henri Bok, Gary Gray, Michele Zukovsky, Eddie Daniels and the Clare Fischer Clarinet Choir.  Nancy and I will be there under the auspices of the Vandoren/Dansr reed company. 

At the end of August our more or less normal activities begin again, and hopefully we will not have too many items marked UNDONE from our “Things to be Accomplished This Summer” list. 

Please check the events page from time to time to see what we’ll be doing.  That’s it for now, and remember, please continue to support live music because dead music is no fun at all!



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