Jack Sohmer

Jack’s Contributions


January/February 2001    Albums

We Got it Good: An Ellington Songbook
Andre Previn/David Finck

Although likely to fall between the cracks of the dozens of Ellington tributes released during the globally celebrated centennial anniversary of Duke's birth last year, this one deserves at least passing acknowledgement. Putting aside for the moment Previn...


January/February 2001    Albums

Duke Ellington's Sacred Music
Big Band De Lausanne

Outside of Ellington's three original concerts, as recently reissued on RCA's mammoth boxed set, this is probably the only recording that brings together so many of the composer's devotional pieces in one place. For this project, conductor Roby Seidel not...


January/February 2001    Albums

Fletcher Henderson's Unrecorded Arrangements for Benny Goodman
Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Big Band

Short of discovering another batch of previously unissued recordings of the classic late 1930s Goodman big band, the best stroke of fortune in recent years was the unearthing of a number of Fletcher Henderson charts that, for one reason or another, never...


January/February 2001    Albums

C'est Magnifique!
George Masso Sextet

Followers of the Nagel-Heyer label know what to expect from this high quality, amazingly consistent German firm-hot, live, combo-jam performances by some of the best swing-oriented jazzmen in the world today-and this release will not let them down. Under...


January/February 2001    Albums

The Complete Capitol Recordings of Woody Herman
Woody Herman

While Woody Herman's celebrated First Herd of 1944 to 1946 was unquestionably the darling of both critics and jazz fans alike, it would have been naive to think that he could have maintained that band in the face of mounting economic pressures and changes...


December 2000    Albums

Anniversary of a Jazz Legend: D.J. "Nick" La Rocca 1889-1999
Original Dixieland Jazz Band

Consisting of 14 never before recorded jazz tunes, written between 1958 and 1960 by ODJB founder/cornetist Nick La Rocca and/or his trumpet-playing son Jimmy, leader of the revivalist band heard here, this release affords a rare glimpse of a contemporary...


December 2000    Albums

Grit-Gittin' Feelin'
Harold Ousley

A veteran of the Chicago jazz and R&B lounge scene of the 1950s and later, tenorman Ousley has worked with dozens of big names over the years, but, for some reason, he never escalated to the same level of prominence as his contemporaries Gene Ammons and...


December 2000    Books

The Ladies Who Sing With the Band
Betty Bennett

Since this is an autobiography dealing exclusively with the career of one particular jazz vocalist, one must question the advisability of the book’s title, which seems to imply a historical coverage of a whole genre, starting with Mildred Bailey and Helen...


November 2000    Books

Arranging the Score: Portraits of the Great Arrangers
Gene Lees

Gene Lees, in addition to being a widely published writer on jazz and pre-rock popular music, is also an accomplished lyricist and singer. After serving as Down Beat’s editor from 1959 to 1961, Lees wrote as a freelancer for Saturday Review, Stereo Review...


November 2000    Albums

Remember Doc Cheatham
Chuck Folds and his Sweet Basil Friends

In this heartfelt tribute to his former boss at New York's Sweet Basil, longtime Cheatham accompanist Chuck Folds brings together two of Doc's favorite trumpet-playing sitters-in, Spanky Davis and Irvin Stokes, along with bassist Frank Tate and drummer Jackie...


November 2000    Albums

Rides Again: Live!
Jim Widner Big Band

The Widner Big Band easily lives up to the promise made by its earlier CMG releases on its third disc, Rides Again: Live!. Most prominent in the 20-piece band's aural image is the impact of the six-man trumpet section, a juggernaut of the same mettle as...


October 2000    Albums

New Works
Bob Brookmeyer New Art Orchestra

Formed out of a group of younger European musicians with whom trombonist/composer Brookmeyer had played over three summers at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, the 18-piece New Art Orchestra is in commendable shape for its debut recording. The major...


October 2000    Albums

Alternate Route
Mike Vax and New Oakland Jazz Orchestra

A community effort designed to keep big band music an important part of local cultural life, the 21-person New Oakland Jazz Orchestra is directed by trumpeter/flugelhornist Mike Vax. All arrangements seem to have originated in-house, and the most engaging...


October 2000    Books

Artie Shaw: A Musical Biography and Discography
Vladimir Simosko

Sixty years ago, Artie Shaw’s name carried even more cachet in the world of popular entertainment than do the names of top film stars and rock performers today. Tellingly, though, he was neither an actor nor a singer, but a brilliant clarinetist and the...


October 2000    Albums

Satch Plays Fats
Louis Armstrong

Satch Plays Fats is rightfully judged, along with Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy, as of one of the two most compelling albums that the Armstrong All-Stars recorded for Columbia. This updated reissue of the 1955 album offers the edited alternate takes of...


October 2000    Albums

Satchmo the Great
Louis Armstrong

Satchmo the Great comes largely from the soundtrack of an eponymous TV documentary coproduced and narrated by Edward R. Murrow. With the New Orleans-born swing clarinetist Edmond Hall taking the place of Bigard in the summer of 1955, the All-Stars toured...

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About Jack Sohmer