“New voices” in the jazz idiom
If you are a connoisseur or lover of big band music, then undoubtedly you will either own or have heard a recording of music that Bob Curnow has helped to create in one format or another.
Born in Easton, PA, Bob was a trombonist with the Stan Kenton Orchestra and was a member of the last “Mellophonium Band.”
In 1973, he began a four-year stint as the A & R Director, arranger, composer, record producer and general manager for Stan Kenton’s Creative World Records, where he produced over 30 LPs for Kenton, and his arrangements and compositions can be heard on six Stan Kenton albums.
In January 1999, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Association of Jazz Education. He also over a 14-year period served the IAJE as an executive board member, treasurer, vice-president, president-elect, president and past-president.
He is the owner/president of Sierra Music Publications, located in Liberty Lake, WA, publisher of the Stan Kenton Orchestra Library, the Oliver Nelson Library, the music of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, the Yellowjackets, the Maynard Ferguson “Birdland Dream Band” Library, the music of Bill Holman, Shorty Rogers, Les Hooper and many other great jazz composers.
His more recent activities include conducting and arranging the widely-acclaimed big band recording of Pat Metheny music. The CD is “Bob Curnow’s L.A. Big Band, The Music of Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays.” The recording has received consistent rave reviews from all over the world.
The album was recorded and produced in Los Angeles with an all-star band including jazz greats Bobby Shew, Steve Houghton, Don Rader, Rick Culver, Buddy Childers, Bill Cunliffe and many others. This CD was released on the MAMA Records label and it is the best selling CD in their history.
His most recent completed project was the CD recording “Bob Curnow & the SWR Big Band,” (Towednack- Celtic Big Band), released in July 2002. Recorded in Stuttgart, Germany, with some of the finest European jazz musicians available. Bob Curnow wrote 10 new compositions/arrangements for the CD, which is available Sierra Music Publications.
So how does this link to High Brass?
Well, since the formation of High Brass in 2000, the band has found the music and arrangement of Bob Curnow to be inspirational, in terms of playing, arranging and, of course, performing.
The intricacies and complex structures suit the genre and identity of the band and, as a result, the band has featured several adaptations by Chris Billington of Bob Curnow’s music, in particular from the music of Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays recordings with the LA Big Band called “It’s Just Talk,” “Dream of the Return,” “First Circle” and “In Her “all of which featured on the “Higher” CD recorded in 2003 by High Brass.
After the release of this recording, a copy of the disc was sent to Curnow for his review and with a request to offer general feedback. Since that date, the band has been in constant contact with Curnow, who has offered support and encouragement for both the players and the arrangers.
Recently, he discussed the potential demands which will be placed on the High Brass players whilst tackling the fantastic arrangement of “Riverdance” arranged by Curnow and recorded on the “Towednack” CD, with the SWR.
In furtherance to this, during late Spring 2005, High Brass will venture once again back into the recording studio to capture the next stage of the band’s journey, only this time, the band is to be joined by Bob Curnow.
Not only will the band aim to record in the region of 12 pieces of music specifically arranged for High Brass by Bob Curnow, along with the usual in-house suspects and some special guest arrangers. The man who became synonymous with the recorded sound of the Kenton Orchestra will guide the whole studio project.
Curnow commented on the venture: ” I’m looking forward to working with “fresh voices” in the jazz idiom.”
During his visit to the UK, Curnow will undertake a live performance with the band and at present possible dates and venues are being discussed and explored.
All the members of High Brass came out of the United Kingdom’s drum and bugle corps activity and have been helpful in spreading the awareness of the activity throughout their country. They have produced two CDs, both of which are available on the Drum Corps World Web site — click on “current CDs in the group of store icons below the masthead.
Further details on the recording session, dates and concert will be posted on the Web site over the forthcoming month — www.highbrass.org.uk.
More information on Bob Curnow and Sierra Music is available at www.sierramusic.com.