Now in its 12th year, the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra opened its 2006-2007 concert season last Sunday at the Indiana History Center. The program was devoted to the music of Oliver Nelson, one of the most prolific and important jazz composers of modern jazz’s golden era, the ’60s.
The matinee performance drew a sparse audience. But the BWJO, under artistic director Brent Wallarab, roared out of the gate with a rousing interpretation of Nelson’s “Full House” with Rich Dole’s bass trombone and Frank Glover’s tenor sax contributing upbeat solo journeys.
Oliver Nelson Jr. was on hand to give insightful commentary about his father’s compositions. Nelson Jr. brought humor to stories about his father’s music career — he also played his flute and piccolo. On “Black, Brown & Beautiful,” an attractive melody with a wistful feel, Nelson Jr.’s flute was featured. He showed masterful technique with the BWJO, providing sensitive ensemble backing. On “Miss Fine,” Nelson Jr.’s piccolo was sailing over the swinging melody and punching section work from BWJO.
The BWJO shouted, grooved and swung with a controlled abandon on “Down By the Riverside,” “Hoe Down” and “Emancipation Blues.” Drummer Deno Sanders was a dynamo with bassist Jack Helsley as they drove the orchestra relentlessly. Everyone who had a chance to tell his solo story was on top of his craft. It was an exciting opening for the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra’s 2006-2007 season.
This city is extremely fortunate to have the BWJO. I only attended the matinee but it was obvious by the attendance that this orchestra needs your support. It would be a tremendous loss if we were to lose some of the artists in this orchestra to other cities.
The BWJO’s remaining concerts at the Indiana History Center are Sunday, Dec. 17, “Carol of the Bells”; Wednesday, Feb. 14, “Stairway To The Stars”; and Sunday, May 6, “Jazz For Couch Potatoes.”
The BWJO 2006-2007 Annual Fund Campaign is now underway. For donations or tickets contact BWJO Inc. at 3649 N. Delaware St., Indianapolis, IN 46205, phone 317-921-8869 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Look for new CD releases from the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra over the next four months. The baritone voice of Everett Greene is featured with the BWJO on their holiday CD Carol of The Bells, to be released in November. Just recorded is Songs of Romance of American songbook standards to be released in February 2007.
• Veteran tenor saxophonist Tommy Wills can be heard Thursdays at The Pub, 2146 N. Mitthoffer Road, from 8-11 p.m. with no cover charge. The Tommy Wills band has a new CD, Dance With Me, to be released next month.