Hector Vega -
              JazzFest 2002

JWP Agency / Jim Wadsworth Productions

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Cross Country Suite

The Chicago Jazz Orchestra announces the availability with select symphony orchestras andCross Country Suite Paquito DíRivera the performance of Nelson Riddle's Cross Country Suite.  This Grammy award-winning, eleven-movement suite for solo clarinet and jazz/symphony orchestra has been performed only twice in it's entirety since its LP release in 1958.  It will be premiered in select cities throughout the U.S in the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 seasons. Originally recorded by the Nelson Riddle Orchestra featuring Buddy DeFranco on clarinet, this new production will now feature this generationís greatest clarinetist, Paquito D'Rivera.  The suite calls for a jazz orchestra and symphony orchestra.

This new edition of Nelson Riddle's work, made possible by the editing and transcription talents of Jeff Lindberg, is sure to excite audiences.  The suite creates a feeling of togetherness as each movement reflects each region of our great nation.  In addition, Paquito D'Rivera has agreed to supplement the suite with a new movement to reflect the Latino population of our country, which was not covered in the original 1958 composition.

Jeff
                          LindbergChicago Jazz Orchestra
The Chicago Jazz Orchestra is recognized as one of the finest jazz orchestras in the country.  Jeff Lindberg represents a new breed of American conductors who are equally adept with the literatures of the American jazz orchestra and the European symphony orchestra. As well a
s holding the position of Artistic Director of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Mr. Lindberg is Music Director of the Wooster Symphony Orchestra, now in its 95th season.  Mr. Lindberg has received numerous commissions from the Smithsonian Institution for transcriptions of original jazz recordings. His transcriptions have been performed by such artists as Joe Williams, Clark Terry, Gunther Schuller, David Baker, and by such orchestras as the Count Basie Orchestra, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the Woody Herman Orchestra, and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. 

The Chicago Jazz Orchestra has received the highest of critical acclaim from the media, including extensive praise from the Chicago Tribune and Downbeat magazine. Their recent recording of Porgy and Bess with NEA Jazz Master Clark Terry was one of only a handful of recordings in the past decade that received five stars from Downbeat.

The Chicago Jazz Orchestra is recognized internationally, having been the resident orchestra for The Kennedy Center Honors for the past 21 years.  The orchestra has toured Europe twice, including performances in Italy, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden.

Paquito D'RiveraPaquito D'Rivera
Born on the island of Cuba, Paquito D'Rivera began his career as a child prodigy. A restless musical genius durin
g his teen years, Mr. DíRivera created various original and ground-breaking musical ensembles. As a founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna, he directed that group for two years, while at the same time playing both the clarinet and saxophone with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. He eventually went on to premiere several works by notable Cuban composers with the same orchestra. Additionally, he was a founding member and co-director of the innovative musical ensemble Irakere. With its explosive mixture of jazz, rock, classical and traditional Cuban music never before heard, Irakere toured extensively throughout America and Europe, won several Grammy nominations (1979, 1980) and a Grammy (1979).

In addition to  his nine Grammy's, DíRivera is a recipient of the National Medal for the Arts, presented at the White House by President George W. Bush in 2005, and was named a NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) Jazz Master in 2005. In both 2004 and 2006, the Jazz Journalists Association honored Mr. D'Rivera as the Clarinetist of the Year, and in March 2007 he was honored with the Living Jazz Legend Award in a ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Quotes

"Over the weekend, DeFranco -- this time joined by Jeff Lindberg's Chicago Jazz Orchestra -- revived that score, to great effect and robust response." 
Howard Reich / Chicago Tribune

"With the Chicago Jazz Orchestra providing a swirl of instrumental color, there was no question that Riddle had evoked a sense of 1950s Americana. Yes, some movements owed a debt to Aaron Copland, George Gershwin and Maurice Ravel, but overall the piece articulated the tempo of American rhythm and the optimism of the American spirit in vivid detail."
Howard Reich / Chicago Tribune


Audio Samples from Cross Country Suite

audio Movement 1 "Tall Timber" (mp3)
audio Movement 7 "The Mississippi" (mp3)
audio Movement 10 "Metropolis" (mp3)


Click here for more on the Chicago Jazz Orchestra as well as their website.
Click here for more on Paquito D'Rivera.


The Story: Nelson Riddle's Cross Country Suite

By Marc Myers at www.jazzwax.com

Nelson Riddle is best remembered as the arranger who helped re-invent Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and many other great Capitol recording artists of the 1950s. Riddle's genius rested with his ability to construct intricate inNr_albums_crosscountrystrumental textures and mount them delicately atop a swinging big-band beat. To establish a song's mood, Riddle was not above pairing, say, a bass clarinet and baritone saxophone with a Hammond B-3 organ and flute. The result of this and countless other instrumental collages was pure ear candy. To this day Riddle's charts sound so simple, yet even the most knowing listeners often find they are hard-pressed to decipher exactly what instruments were used. They're like giant magic tricks, and it's no wonder the best singers of the 1950s and beyond adored his sweet-and-power touch. Capitol4

In addition to being a much in-demand Hollywood studio, TV and movie arranger, Riddle also was a composer. One of his finest albums in this capacity was Cross Country Suite, which won a Grammy in 1959 for Best Original Instrumental Composition. Recorded with 36 musicians over three days in the summer of 1958, the album features 11 tracks, each one a different impressionistic portrait of America. According to the University of Arizona, the orchestrations were by Bill Jones, one of three ghostwriters Nelson used to help meet pNelson Riddleroject deadlines. What makes the album particularly special is that it showcased the cool, knowing clarinet of Buddy DeFranco.

In retrospect, Cross Country Suite is Riddle's love letter to America.

The music is pastoral and panoramic, and the recording may well be one of the first symphonic folk-jazz albums, akin to Ferde Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite and Aaron Copland's Rodeo or Billy the Kid. With Buddy soloing, the album becomes the musical equivalent of a Thomas Hart Benton mural.

Long out of print, Cross Country Suite recently was re-issued on CD by the Nelson Riddle estate and released by Universal Music. Each track runs between two and five minutes and was meant to capture the feel of the region it's named after. Taken together, the suite is a flurry of "Wish You Were Here" postcards, a sentimental soundtrack that brings America's wide-shouldered beauty to life. Each time you listen to this album, you feel as if you are gently crossing the country in the basket of a hot-air balloonówith Buddy pointing out the sites on his clarinet.

"I remember when my Dad brought the album home," said Rosemary Acerra, Nr_gal_018 Nelson Riddle's daughter, when I spoke to her yesterday afternoon. "I knew he was working on it when I was 8 years old, and I started to listen to the album intently when I was 10, I became infatuated with his compositions and what they made me think of and the pictures they painted. This album was my Dad's concept of what this country looked and felt like, musically. I've always loved listening to it."

The album's opener, Tall Timber, sounds mighty, with FrenchAn_amazing_redwood_forest horns and trombones sawing away to tease out the impressions of a redwood forest. Smoky Mountain Country sounds like the rolling green hills and cabins of the rural South. The Rockies is explosive and captures the scale and magnitude of the peaks. The Great Lakes takes a jaunty approach, capturing the mood of a flatter landscape and a more distant horizon.

The Great Plains makes you think of golden wheat rustling in the Missouririverboats wind, while Gulf Coast is three parts Bourbon Street, one part blues. On The Mississippi, you feel the slow chug of a riverboat, and a harmonica is added for a laid-back, Huck Finn flavor. Down East delivers a folksy, two-step riff, and El Camino Real offers a Latin touch. Metropolis is pure New York City, with the xylophone conjuring up images of people coming up out of a subway and skyscrapers with setbacks.

Finally, Longhorn is a tribute to Texas and Texans. As a bonus, there's a male chorus driving home the point with a vocal line dance. In unison, the Cowboyhatvoices chant: "We're much bigger than... stronger than... handsomer than... richer than... smarter than... braver than... any-one (clap-clap-clap)." It's pure Texas, big, tall and boastful.

All of these compositions provide Buddy DeFranco  with a massive continental canvas on which to create his own impressions. His clarinet is relaxed, swaying and always digging deep to create just the right regional touch. He moves in and out of Riddle's orchestrations and brings the entire suite together. There's bop, swing and everything else in between.

I've found that one of the most enjoyable ways to listen to this CD is with your eyes closed. You wind up seeing exactly what Nelson, Bill Jones and Buddy had in mind.


Credit Marc Myers at www.jazzwax.com


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Hector Vega