Note: In an earlier review I misspelled Kate Olson’s and Samantha Boshnack’s names. My apologies ladies.

Live Review:
The Cornish Contemporary Big Band
The Washington Composers Orchestra (WACO)
at The Royal Room, Jan 20, 2013

The Cornish Contemporary Big Band
Tom Varner – french horn, conductor, instructor
Kyle Doran – drums
Josh Cobian – bass
Jackie Sandberg – piano
Shohei Ogami – electric guitar
Eric Duburry – trumpet
Huley Freedlund – trombone
Andrew Coulter – trombone
Alex Huber – alto sax
Michael Conklin – tenor sax
Chris Thorne – tenor sax
Mattius Leino – baritone sax

When you hear the name Cornish, you know you’re going to get quality in the arts. And this band is no exception. A credit to Mr. Varner, who has been leading the band for only this school year, and his talented, dedicated students. They were really tight. They played a really good book, including Wayne Horvitz and Tom Varner songs.

I was especially impressed with Jackie Sandberg, Shohei Ogami, and Michael Conklin. Their solos were intricate, yet fluid. Exciting. This band played one set.

The Washington Composers Orchestra (WACO)
Wayne Horvitz – conductor, piano
Robin Holcomb – conductor, piano
Tom Varner – french horn
Greg Sinibaldi – tenor sax (chair is usually Eric Barber)
Mark Taylor – alto sax, flute
Steve Treseler – alto sax, clarinet
Stuart MacDonald – tenor sax
Jim Dejoie – baritone sax
Thomas Marriott – trumpet
Steve O’Brien – trumpet (chair is usually Al Keith)
Samantha Boshnack – trumpet
David Marriott – trombone
Nelson Bell – bass trombone
Chuck Deardorf – double bass (chair is usually Phil Sparks)
Greg Campbell – drums

This is my favorite big band in the PNW. Most songs are either original compositions and/or arrangements by Ms Holcomb, or Mr Horvitz, or Mr. Varner. Except for the last tune of the night, the end of the second set, “Don’t Stop Now”, where the band seemed a little disjointed, that is, not really playing all together, the band sounded better than ever! I mean check out the line-up! These musicians are great! Even when they make mistakes, when they don’t sound good, they don’t sound bad. You can bet your money on this band. Like there’s only one thoroughbred racing shetland ponies. Easy money.

The compositions and arrangements sound a lot like Mingus and sometimes like 20th century composers like maybe Kurt Weill, maybe Bartok, maybe
Messiaen. Sometimes it swings, I mean really swings! Sometimes it tugs at your mind and soul. Real eclectic.

A few members of the band I would like to write about tonight’s performance. Chuck Deardorf played great tonight as whenever I’ve heard him play. Interesting bass lines, dynamic solos, the bass has a full sound, every note clear as crystal. Samantha Boshnack took the very best solo I ever heard her play tonight. Jim Dejoie plays bari sax as good or better than anyone I’ve heard in this state, and he was on the money again tonight.

The band usually plays once a month at the Royal Room. I heard they will be taking a break until the first Sunday in April. Check the Royal Room calender and make sure you see this band. I mean, c’mon, whaddaya gonna do … bet on a pony?!

Thanks to all the musicians and composers/arrangers, thanks for reading, and I’ll be seeing you around.

Seattle Jazz