Well, it's been too long since I wrote again, but let's continue. We now come to 2005, and I felt that it was time to put the current group on record, so in June of that year we met at Bryan Shaw's studio in Costa Mesa and put down the tracks which would become "Swingers and Novelties". It went well, though it was nerve wracking for me, as I was conducting, singing, and trying to play good trumpet solos with Bryan ( a great trumpeter himself ) listening. After all the work that goes into a recording ( mixing, artwork, etc. ) it was finally released in mid 2006. I'm proud of the result and still feel that it's a good representation of the current group. It also allowed us to feature some of Don Redman's tunes - he is a good composer of the era who deserves more recognition. We were able to keep fairly busy during this time, doing a few park concerts here and there (Chino Hills in 06 and Temecula in 03 come to mind), as well as club dates at the Derby in LA and the Argyle Hotel gigs run by Maxwell Demille from 2002 to 2004. We continued making appearances at the Art A Fair Festival in Laguna Beach ( where we'd been performing since 1995 ). A new event started in 2005 which proved to be a great showcase for us - the Art Deco Festival on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. It started as just a 2 hour reception gig and has grown into a nice Labor Day Weekend gig for us. We certainly appreciate the support that John Thomas and his organization have given us over the years. Another personnel change happened in the fall of 2006 when Larry Wright left town. At Tom Hyne's suggestion I replaced him with Bryan Taylor, our current drummer. He is a versatile player and very easy to work with. Of course, our last addition is Wendy Rea, who began singing with us last year. Wendy had left town for awhile, and I had always enjoyed working with her. I like to use her as both a featured vocalist and in trio/background situations in the group - this gives us a good variety of textures to use during a gig and makes us a little different than the rest of the girl singer fronted bands. Time goes on, and we're fortunate to keep performing. Though the Derby and the Art A Fair gigs are gone now, we continue to appear at the Cicada Club and various other venues. I hope to record the group again in the not too distant future with Wendy - perhaps a smaller project to keep costs manageable ( if that can ever be said about recordings ). Here's hoping that we keep going for as long as people wish to hear swinging music. Thanks for reading, and for your support! Until next time...
Yep, I've been away from the blog too long again...but let's continue. As I related earlier, Ed Slauson joined in 1998, making us a five piece group. Ed was a wonderful drummer and a great person - unfortunately he only did two gigs with the band during his time with me, though he was on hand for our first professional recording ( Swing That Music ) which was done at Dick Hamilton's LA studio in March of 1999. I was able to get it released on cassette in time for the summer and our appearance at the Big Bear Lake Festival Of Jazz ( we played there for three straight years, 1998 - 2000, before it unfortunately folded as many classic jazz festivals do ). Sadly, Ed lost his long battle with cancer and died in August of 1999. When I released the recording on CD later, I dedicated it to Ed. At this time, we were still keeping fairly busy with park concert appearances, and I asked Larry Wright ( a local legend out here - multi instrumentalist extraordinare ) to replace Ed on drums, and he agreed to do so. Toward the end of 1999 Eric Stiller left to go to New York and I replaced him with the one and only Lee "Westy" Westenhofer on bass and vocals. I didn't make much use of Westy's vocal talents at first - that would come later. Tom Liston was getting more and more busy with steel drum playing ( he has done quite well with it ) and gradually faded out of the group. I had been using Tom Hynes as a sub, and so he now became the new guitarist. As for Dan St. Marseille, he gradually faded out too - I had been using Phil Krawzak whenever I could and had always admired his playing from way back in the early Dean Mora days. So around 2003 - 04 he became my regular sax/clarinet player. Whew! So much history to relate. In the next installment I'll try to bring it all up to date, beginning with our second ( and most current ) recording. Thanks for reading, and I welcome your comments.
Well, as I feared, these blog entries may turn out to be bi-weekly...wrapping up my school teaching year, etc. is keeping me busy. Hopefully I'll have more time soon. Anyway, I wanted to write about the origin and history of my band. The beginnings go back to 1993 when I started rehearsing a four piece group - I had just started writing a few arrangements. I still have a cassette tape somewhere of that group. Nothing much happened until the next year when the personnel stabilized and I started rehearsing more often. That first group was myself, Jay Mason on clarinet, alto, and tenor; Charlie Warren on string bass, and Tom Liston on guitar and banjo ( back then I was interested in switching back and forth from a dixie to a swing feel ). Charlie Warren and Jay soon left, and were replaced by Mark Visher on saxes/clarinet and Benjamin May on bass. This was the group that started to do gigs in 1995 - we appeared at local Jazz Society meetings and also did a few park concerts. Things started to happen for us in 1996 - more gigs, and an appearance at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee. We also made our first recording at a home studio ( on cassette - I still have a few ) which we sold at Sacramento...it's a curious mix of dixieland, swing, and some tunes that I composed for my daughter, son and my late father. In 1997 Mark left and was replaced by Dan St. Marseille, and this group appeared at the Sun Valley Idaho Jazz Festival in 1997 - that was a lot of fun. Since Dan was more comfortable just playing tenor and clarinet, I dropped the alto sax parts from my band book, and it's been tenor and clarinet ever since. We also appeared at the now defunct Sweet and Hot Jazz Festival around this time as well, and also performed at the Orange County Classic Jazz Festival as well. In 1998 Benjamin left and was replaced by Eric Stiller on bass. The guys convinced me that it was a good time to add a drummer, and suggested that I try Ed Slauson, and he joined us toward the end of 1998. Well, I've probably gone on long enough for now. In the next installment I'll talk about our next more professional recording, and more goings on up to the present, as well as thoughts on our repertoire and what we're trying to accomplish. Thanks for reading!
Hello friends, I suppose that it's about time for me to join the world of blogging, so here goes. This will be the first in a series of weekly ( or perhaps bi-weekly ) postings about myself and my band, The Swingsations, as well as other observations on life and music that you may find interesting. I welcome your comments, would love to hear from any of you who enjoy my group or if something I say appeals to you. First of all, a little about myself. I am originally from Missouri, was born and raised in the St. Louis area. I left there in 1989 to go on the road playing with the Russ Morgan Orchestra ( an old style "society" type big band ). I travelled throughout the country for about a year and a half - it was a good learning experience for me and I worked with many fine musicians. There is a virtue to being able to play the same tunes night after night and make them sound fresh and exciting. In the course of my travels I met my wife while the band was performing on a cruise ship ( yes, that's right ) and we decided to get married...so I relocated to California in 1990 and have been here ever since. We have two wonderful children - one is halfway through college already, and the other is about to go to college ( time sure does fly ). In the intervening twenty plus years I have managed to eke out something approaching a living playing the trumpet and teaching music - it's been rough at times, but I'm still hanging in there. I am very fortunate to perform quite often at Disneyland and also work with some very fine groups such as Dean Mora's Orchestras and Jonathan Stout's Campus Five. I can look back on many wonderful musical memories, with many more to come ( I do hope and pray ). I will close for now, and thank you for your consideration. More to come in the near future, about the band and the music I love and the great players who create it. Take care, everyone!

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