"One hears straight up all the wonderful artistic shoulders jazz drummer Brooks Tegler has stood on over the years, as you peruse his new disc. Plus, Brooks offers his personal panoply of musical history as he & his group take us through the music of Irving Berlin to Count Basie with a modern, yet early & contemporary elegance as it were. Tegler & the group offer us a straightforward swing idiom, & this by default enhances the continuity of their ideas. Tegler understands his job well as he expresses his music ... Using richly dissonant chords ... And his renditions swing in hard drive ... while his ballads remain both steamy & romantic. As listeners the total spectrum of our musical tastes are heightened & we emerge the better for the experience."
George W. Carroll / The Musicians' Ombudsman
"The title tune for this CD is It's Been So Long by Walter Donaldson. The tune is appropriate since it has been "so long" since top flight musicians gathered to play and jam with any frequency. Those gatherings used to be commonplace back in the Thirties, Forties and even into the Fifties. You might find any number of excellent musicians getting together in 52nd Street clubs, in afterhours joints, or on radio programs such as "The Saturday Night Swing Sessions" simply to make good music.
"Brooks Tegler's Capital Combinations includes groupings of 14 outstanding musicians from Washington, DC, suburban Virginia and Maryland whose paths cross often enough in different groups to have built up a respect and admiration for each other's work. The constants throughout the CD are Marty Nau, on alto and sometimes clarinet; John Jensen on trombone; Chuck Redd on vibes; Tom Mitchell on guitar; Robert Redd on piano; and Brooks Tegler on drums. The tenor and baritone sax work is split between Scott Silbert and John Doughten, with Scott also providing some of the key arrangements. The trumpet work is split between Vince McCool and Marc Weigel, with the bass work being divided between John Previti and Tom Cecil. Vocals by Brooks, Tom Mitchell, Lynn McCune and Jim Stephenson are also featured.
"The strongest part of this CD is the ensemble work of the various combinations, which is outstanding. The music is basically that of the Swing Era with touches and shades of more modern jazz styles also in evidence. The individual work of all of the players is what you would expect from musicians of this caliber.
"However, special mention has to go to the very strong and excellent playing throughout of Marty Nau, mostly on alto but also on clarinet. The same can be said, as well, of trumpeter Vince McCool, whose work is also consistently strong with great ideas. John Doughten, the only outlander in the group (he's from Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania) does outstanding work on clarinet on You Turned the Tables On Me and on baritone sax on Jive At Five. The same can be said of Marc Weigel's trumpet work on Jive At Five. John Jensen's trombone and Chuck Redd's vibes are both very appealing, as are Tom Mitchell's guitar and Robert Redd's piano. The bass work of both John Previti and Tom Cecil is great, especially Previti on The Chaser and Cecil on It's Been So Long. Brooks' drumming is tasty throughout and very supportive to the other musicians.
"I could go on about each and every number and that consistently good ensemble work as well as the solos...but space, of course, does not permit. Nevertheless, I do want to mention five of the cuts in particular. The first of these is Suspension Blues, written by trombonist Vic Dickenson, which naturally features the excellent trombone of John Jensen, the outstanding baritone of Scott Silbert and the aforementioned alto of Marty Nau. On this, the longest cut on the CD, listen for some nice drum work by Brooks. Ready for Freddie by Charles Thompson again features that marvelous ensemble work along with swinging solos from Marty Nau on alto, John Jensen on trombone, Scott Silbert, this time on tenor, Vince McCool on trumpet, and Robert Redd on piano. My Funny Valentine is a tour de force for John Doughten's more modern sounding tenor, with an excellent intro from Tom Mitchell on guitar and great support from Robert Redd on piano. Don't Let It Go To Your Head, which has not been heard that often, again stands out with Brooks' vocal, Marty's alto, Tom's guitar, Robert's piano and Tom Cecil's bass. Finally, a close listen to Remember is recommended, with McCool's "cool" trumpet, Marty's alto, John Jensen's trombone, Robert Redd's piano and back to McCool's trumpet, this time kind of sweet and sassy.
"The CD "It's Been So Long" proves once again not all of the best musicians are located in L.A. or New York. This is true, of course, of many other areas other than the ones represented by Brooks Tegler's Capital Combinations. This is a CD any jazz fan would enjoy for listening or, yes, even dancing because most of this is danceable music, as was most of the music of the Swing Era."
Tegler, host of the jazz show Jazz Straight Ahead
By Richard Harrington
BROOKS TEGLER BIG BAND
Brooks Tegler, who may be the busiest drummer in Washington, sees Friday's program as part chronological hit parade and part swing history, in a program that will kick off with native son Duke Ellington's 1930 classic "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo."
"It'll be basically a tune per year, with a first set of a dozen or so tunes," Tegler explains. "We'll cover the '30s to the '40s. Things start to get fuzzy in the mid-'40s, post-World War II, as far as what was going on in jazz, so I decided to stop in '45 and pick up with the J Street Jumpers.
"Then we'll pick it up in the '50s and '60s, where it gets a little more nebulous," Tegler adds, noting that "while it's a lot of the same [big bands], there are some differences. A lot of early Count Basie was pretty similar in that it was a blues-based big band; the Basie of the '50s and '60s was an entirely different animal. In my opinion, a lot of it changed simply because of who the drummers were: Joe Jones was very different from Sonny Payne, and then Butch Miles was very different from Sonny," says Tegler, who spent much of last weekend at Blues Alley hanging out with Miles as the Count Basie Orchestra helped the Georgetown club celebrate its 40th anniversary.
According to Tegler, "We're pulling a lot from the same groups, the point being a lot these bands hung on into the early '70s and beyond, notably Basie and Ellington, so there's a fair amount of stylistic difference. I'm actually using three different sets of drums."
Such attention to detail is what Tegler's known for, whether it's re-creating the historic 1938 Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall concert or evoking the fabled military big bands of World War II through his Allied Aviation Federation. Patterned after groups like the 4th Fighter Group's Flying Eagles and the 78th Fighter Group's Thunderbirds, the AAF was particularly busy during last year's Smithsonian-sponsored World War II Memorial ceremony, including re-creating pre-mission briefings that used both reenactors and veterans of actual missions.
"That's my World War II jones -- I'm a World War II historian -- and it was a perfect blend to put together a band doing World War II material," Tegler explains. He was also the primary model and organizer of the other models for the sculpture panels at the National World War II Memorial.
"That was pure luck," Tegler explains. "Scott Campbell, who helps me a lot with the big band and also works with the Nighthawks, saw an article about the sculptor and said I ought to talk to the guy. So I called him and said, 'I've got all the clothing, all the equipment and all the people you could possibly need as models,' and for 2 1/2 years we worked in the studio, using drawings and pictures and building panels out of that. There are four or five panels where you can recognize each one of us individually. I'm all over the place -- my favorite is the aircraft factory where I'm sitting in the middle of the panel with a hat on, smoking a cigarette."
That may not be politically correct, but, Tegler says, "what the hell, everyone did it then. It was part of the fabric of the culture." Speaking of fabric, Tegler's big band had one advantage in presenting its Glenn Miller tribute: "We already had all the uniforms."
Tegler gets to re-create the famous Goodman Carnegie Hall concert several times a year, clarinetist Joe Midiri playing Goodman to Tegler's Gene Krupa. "It was a remarkable concert, and I know every little hiccup and belch in that recording," says Tegler, including the unreleased section featuring Krupa coming out and tuning his drums. "That concert has its own electricity, and we've done it 50 times and never had a bad night with it."
Krupa, Tegler points out, has always been his "main inspiration. He was a beautiful cat and an extremely musical player, very much involved in the melody of what he was playing."
He's particularly pleased that one of the people playing in his band is trombonist Jennifer Krupa, whose father was Gene Krupa's cousin. She was one of the first members of the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, formed in 2001 at the new Juilliard Institute for Jazz, as well as a former member of the Benny Goodman Orchestra under the direction of Bob Wilbur. "She's an absolute monster," says Tegler, who will feature Krupa on Ellington's "Hy'a Sue. "She knows Tricky Sam Nanton inside and out."
Tegler's most recent CD, "It's Been So Long," recorded as Tegler's Capital Combinations, features 11 different (and differently sized) ensembles drawn from the local talent pool, including current and former members of the city's military jazz groups. For more than two decades, the drummer has also had a small-group Sunday afternoon gig, for the last two years at the Starland Cafe (5125 MacArthur Blvd. NW; 202-244-9396). "It's a quartet, but it's inevitable that we have at least two or three people come down to sit in and play, oftentimes people who work in the big band as well."
[poster designed by Betsy Vanbuskirk]
"This is a CD any jazz fan would enjoy for listening or, yes, even dancing because most of this is danceable music, as was most of the music of the Swing Era."