Rob Parton Review

Brett Favre Isn't The Only Comeback Kid

Published: August 28, 2009
By Jack Bowers

The ink was barely dry on last month's report that trumpeter Rob Parton had decided to break up his superlative Chicago-based JazzTech Big Band after more than twenty years at the helm before Parton was back with a brand new ensemble, one whose purpose, he says, "is to mirror that of the European Radio Orchestras where new music is the focus rather than that of the repertory bands that are so popular in the U.S." In making the announcement, Parton writes that the music "will feature the sounds of the electric guitar, electric bass, percussion and musical styles outside of the traditional swing setting, hitting upon funk, hip hop and Latin grooves." Uh-oh.

"In some ways," Parton adds, "[the band] might be very similar to Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band intersecting with Maria Schneider's Jazz Orchestra." Instead of playing lead trumpet, as he has in the past, Parton will instead supervise the band from out front, playing trumpet solos and conducting. His replacement, it's good to report, is one of the best in the business, Roger Ingram, who presently leads the Harry Connick Orchestra's trumpet section. Other blue-chip sidemen already on board include saxophonists Mark Colby, Ken Partyka and John Wojciechowski, trombonists Tom Garling and Tom Matta, trumpeter Scott Wagstaff, pianist Kevin O'Connell and drummer Bob Rummage. Parton's wife, Kristy, will handle the vocals, as she did with the JazzTech ensemble.

As for writers, Parton mentions Schneider, Jim McNeely, Chuck Owen, Bob Mintzer and Tim Hagans as among those on whose concepts the band will be patterned, with plans to commission Chicago composers to write "new [and] diverse music outside of the traditional big band composer / orchestration template." As was the case with the JazzTech Big Band, the new Rob Parton ensemble is set to perform regularly at FitzGerald's in suburban Berwyn, sharing the stage starting in October with area college bands and in December with high school jazz bands. Parton's group will also perform at Chicago's Jazz Showcase with the hope of recording live within the next year or so.

After two decades, one must concede that Parton is entitled to go in a new direction of his choosing. On the other hand, the JazzTech Big Band was (and may remain) clearly in a class by itself, standing head and shoulders above most other bands, not only in Chicago but anywhere else, here and abroad. Listeners should wish Parton the best in his new venture and hope he never needs to look back someday and wonder why he ever decided to disband the JazzTech Big Band.

To see the actual article on the All About Jazz Websight click below





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