Rat Pack Round-up 2009 – 1st Installment!

Welcome to the newly re-organised blog section of the site. You’ll notice that some of the previous ‘News’ posts are here as well – I wanted to bring them over to this page since they were really blog-posts already. I hope you like the new version of the site – we’ve all been working pretty hard to bring it to you – and my busy schedule has gotten firmly in the way, as usual!

I’m taking a couple of days break at home in New York before hitting the road again on Friday with the LACJO Spring tour throughout Lower Austria. Following the tremendous fun we had at the first gig in September ’08, I’m really looking forward to getting together with the band and seeing what we can make happen with the music. I’m excited – it’s not often I get to work with such a talented AND motivated group. They have released one video clip of the September concert on to YouTube – you can see it on the new Video page on this site.

The main reason I’ve been so busy is, as usual, the Rat Pack – Live At The Sands US Tour. We’ve just played two great weeks in Louisville, Kentucky and Dallas, Texas. The show is actually carrying on without me in Schenectady, NY this week – a curious feeling to say the least. My dear friend Augie Haas is doing a magnificent job of covering for me, by all accounts!

Louisville, KY

This was such a great city to start off the tour this year. We played in the Whitney Hall at the Kentucky Center – an enormous arts complex right in the heart of downtown Louisville. With a great hotel right around the corner we were well set for a good run. The local musicians in Louisville did a great job and were a lot of fun to hang out with as well. They displayed tremendous enthusiasm about the show as well – which is always nice. Joining me in the Trumpet section were Greg Wing and David Welch, and a big vote of thanks goes out to them for their playing and friendship. We had a ball!

L-R: Greg Wing, BD, David Welch

L-R: Greg Wing, BD, David Welch

Dallas, TX

This was the third time we’ve been to Texas since we started touring the Rat Pack in the USA – actually we opened in San Antonio in October ’06. We have always received a warm welcome in that area and Dallas was no exception!

The band in Dallas was one of the best we’ve had on the tour so far, which is no more than you’d expect since most were graduates from, and many still teachers at, the famous University of North Texas jazz program, just up the road in Denton. On trumpets, alongside me, were Jay Saunders and Keith Jourdan. Jay’s name will be familiar to many following his tenure as Lead trumpet with Stan Kenton in the 1970s. While Keith may not be so well known (at least he wasn’t to me) he has enjoyed a busy playing career which involved a long stint on Tom Jones’ band – now that must have been fun!

L-R: Jay Saunders, BD, Keith Jourdan

L-R: Jay Saunders, BD, Keith Jourdan

It was particularly interesting to meet Jay Saunders as he played Lead on the recordings of some of the Kenton music we’re playing on the LACJO – funny how those things come around!

While we were in Dallas, I also had the chance to go and watch, and sit in with, the Dallas Original Jazz Orchestra, led by Galen Jeter. Galen is a fine trumpet player who also had, among his trumpet section, Maynard Ferguson alum. Ken Edwards. Ken was the featured trumpet soloist on the MF band, alongside Maynard himself, and also recorded on Maynard’s last studio CD – “The One And Only”. He sounded absolutely incredible in the DOJO – definitely a player to keep an eye out for!

Still (vaguely) with the Dallas connection, I had the great pleasure of visiting Birdland in New York last night to watch the famed UNT One O’Clock Lab Band perform. I’m still reeling from the experience! I find it incomprehensible that a college band can sound that good! The musicians, along with their director Steve Wiest, are to be heartily congratulated – if they’re touring anywhere else, or if you’re local enough in Texas, I implore you to go and see them play. You won’t regret it!

I’ll be back with more from my travels soon, as well as news about the podcast and other bits and pieces. Bye for now…