Today's highlighted Madison musical act is the Madison Jazz Orchestra.
Organized some two decades ago, the eighteen-piece Madison Jazz Orchestra is one helluva big band. Managed by trombonist and pianist Brian Whitty, the orchestra swings through a repertoire of tunes it describes as the classics, the powerful, and the contemporary. A regular at clubs, taverns, festivals and even school auditoriums, the group continuously looks to its future with its High School All-Star Jazz Orchestra, while its current membership remains active in many other regional music endeavors.
Here's their registry biography:
Organized by the late Dennis Oliver, Madison bassist extraordinary, in 1986 with it's first concert at the Sheraton Hotel, The Madison Jazz Orchestra has performed in many venues across southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
A long time fixture Thursday nights at Dotty Dumplings Dowry (Dotty's) on Fairchild Street (until the demolition for the new arts center), the MJO continues the tradition of big band jazz in Madison, Wisconsin. With a library consisting of tunes by Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Bob Mintzer and many more, the band swings hard at every performance.
Here's the orchestra's membership, more or less, as it currently presents itself:
- Rand Moore,drums
- John Christensen, double bass
- Dave Stoler , piano
- Vince Jesse, guitar
- Rob Shepherd , alto saxophone
- Mark Cyra, alto saxophone and clarinet
- Jeff Syme, tenor saxophone
- Bill Grahn, tenor saxophone
- Dan Mackey, baritone saxophone
- Don Deal, trombone, musical director
- Todd Schendel , trombone
- Brian Whitty, trombone, manager
- Steve Wilson, trombone
- Jim Kyle, bass trombone
- David Spies, tuba
- Dan Southard, trumpet
- Gary Wilhelm , trumpet
- Mike Boman, trumpet
- Jim Hansen, trumpet
- Jon Schipper , trumpet
- Ken Gleason , trumpet
They're all led by Whitty, who has performed with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Beloit/Janesville Symphony Orchestra, the Madison Brass, the Madison Wind Ensemble, and the MATC Jazz and Concert Bands.
The orchestra's big band sounds are available for listening at madisonjazzorchestra.com. Three songs are featured: "Sing, Sing, Sing," featuring Rand Moore (drums) and Mark Cyra (clarinet); "One Mint Julep," featuring Dan Mackey (baritone sax) and a mystery vocal solo by a member of the band; and finally, "My One and Only Love," featuring Don Deal (trombone) and Bill Grahn (tenor sax). Also available online are photos of the orchestra, including several of the entire group posed in front of the lonely former home of Dotty Dumpling's Dowry on Fairchild Street just before it was torn down to build the Overture Center.
Despite the removal of their former Thursday night home, the Madison Jazz Orchestra continues to play quite regularly throughout Madison and greater Dane County. They're playing two sets of tunes on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at Rusty's in Middleton. There's no cover for either set at the show, which they play on the second Tuesday of every month. Their subsequent show is on Monday, Nov. 20, when they will be performing at the Harmony Bar on the east side of Madison.
This is the latest featured entry from the Madison Music Project, an online database of Madison-area musicians. Please register or update your current profile on the project for consideration in these highlights.