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favorite modern large jazz ensembles


Who is your favorite big band or large ensemble today?  

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I didn't include the ghost bands or the Lincoln Center band because I don't consider them modern playing much new music.

I know I have an East Coast (specifically NY) bias in these choices, but part of my goal here is to have you all introduce me to some other notable big bands out there that are making waves in the jazz community.

I have probably left out some obvious choices but please express your opinions. If you would like, you can do an appraisal of all these groups if you know stuff about them!

Have fun with this!

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I also voted for the Dave Holland Big Band. Last night I saw the Joe Lovano Nonet play Atlanta and they were fantastic. And they had ten people on stage if you count the stagehand that ran out to adjust John Hicks' piano mic during the show.

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I'm certainly no connoisseur of large ensemble music (at least not yet), but I've noticed that I really enjoy everything I've heard by/with the Metropole Orchestra (so far, including works by Frank Rosolino, Bob Brookmeyer, Lee Konitz, and Claudio Roditi).

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Like DTMX, I was completely blown-away by Joe Lovano's Nonet performance at Spivey Hall last night. Most of the tunes were previously recorded by the Lovano Nonet on '52nd Street Abstractions', (Blue Note, 2000). In addition to Lovano, the solos by John Hicks, Kenny Washington, Dennis Irwin, Steve Slagle, and Barry Ries were especially well-received by the 250-plus attendees. With four saxophones and two brass, they comprised a horn section very capable of 'big band' unison passages. In particular, the 3-part suite from 'Birth of the Cool' (arranged by Gunther Schuller) was incredible with the desirable, complex nuances and chords -- on a par with the original recordings -- which earns them my vote for best large ensemble/big band.

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As much as I love the Mingus band and Dave Holland's one time (for now) big project, and with all the respect I have for many of the others mentioned I voted to Maria Schneider.

That brings an interesting thought: two of the best band leaders and arrangers today are women (Maria Schneider and Carla Bley). Melba Liston also comes to mind when you talk about arrangers.

Why are women such good big band leaders?

Does this have anything to do with attributes like patience, frankness and motherhood?

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The first band I though of was Barry Guy, then Mingus Big Band, then the Instabile fellows. I guess these three are my favourite big bands of late. Gruntz is good as well, as is the Vienna Art Orchestra (though their latest efforts are not as strong and individualist anymore, I think). Then there's Maria Schneider :wub:

I have seen all of these bands live, except for Gruntz.

Interesting to note that so many of these bands are either European (Guy, Instabile, VAO), or directed by Europeans (Gruntz)


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I voted "other" ..because I voted for my own band!

The Northwest Prevailing Winds ( CONVERGENCE ZONE _ Origin 82417 )

two Grammy nominations : large jazz ensemble and arrangement


aside from that ..I'd vote for The Brookmeyer NAO, Bill Holman, the Jim Mc Neely 10tet, and for more experimental stuff, the Instabile Orchestra ..

Maria Schneiders latest CD is her best one so far, IMO ..

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