Longtime friend and colleague Dave Ratajczak passed away at his home last Friday. In addition to being a master percussionist/drummer, Dave was a warm and kind individual, loved and admired by his family, friends and peers. Getting to know and work with Dave for the last 25+ years has been an immense pleasure, and I was honored when he agreed to play on my big band CD. He is an all-time great who will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
It’s that time of year again… baseball is winding down, football is starting up, and students and faculty members everywhere are reporting back to school. This month I start my 11th year at Montclair State University, and my very first year at the Manhattan School of Music (my alma mater). After having heard these students play, I can honestly say that jazz (and music in general) is in very good hands. So whenever possible, please get out there and support your local music students by attending their concerts and events. The future is bright!
Late summer/early fall appears to be “big band season” in the northeast. Following the August 5th release of “Around The Horn” came a PBS-TV taping of Michael Feinstein and friends with big band. The very next day featured the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra performing at Tanglewood. And a few days later, we recorded for 5 days with Maria at Avatar Studios in NYC for her new CD.
The fall brings 3 other big band recording projects – those of Bob Mintzer, Ed Neumeister, and Chris Zuar. Throw in a live performance with the Phil Woods Big Band at the COTA Jazz Festival and that’s a whole lotta big band this season!