Impressions of Point Lobos
After having written music for big bands from Stan Kenton to Full Faith and Credit to Count Basie, I decided it was time to have my music played by a band under my own name. Drawing on 15 years of playing experience in the San Francisco Bay Area, I hand picked each chair with the best players I could think of. Professional players work daily and have little time for rehearsal. I was imperative all these players be excellent readers. They are! The saxophone section, lead by Mary Fettig, has five wonderful jazz players, all distinctly different. The five trombones, four of which are great soloists, have that great Stan Kenton trombone sound that I love. The trumpet section, with Rich Bice on lead, has great strength and extremely tasteful jazz solos from Peck Allmond. And lastly, the rhythm section holds the keys to this band's drive. Seward McCain's solid bass lines and excellent reading hold everything together. Smith Dobson's great soloing and comping create instant swing, as Stan used to say, "At the drop of a hat." Steve Brown, in addition to his wonderful solos, great comping, and beautiful sound, adds his unique rhythm guitar playing best described by former Basie tenor player Sal Nistico, who told him that outside of Freddie Green, his was the best rhythm guitar playing he had ever heard. Drummer Jeff Ballard, (Ray Charles, Diane Schur et al.) contributes a special uniqueness. Not only a great reader and big band drummer; Jeff possesses a small group expertise uncommon to big bands that fuels the band's intensity during solo sections. Add to this the special touch of Gail Dobson's vocals and you have an extraordinary musical group. After numerous concerts at the well-known Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, CA, and a 1993 Monterey Jazz Festival appearance, (where the band tore it up), this band is in full swing. This is an exceptional band and that's why I call it "The Great Big Band." Ray Brown.