Grammy-Nominated Trombonist John Fedchock Joins NSU Jazz Ensemble for Sunday’s Jazz Depot Show
Saxophonist Tommy Poole, director of jazz studies at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, says there’s no reason trombonist, arranger, and bandleader John Fedchock should remember the last time they played together.
Poole, however, will never forget it.
“It was right around the time when Dizzy Gillespie died [on January 6, 1993], and I was young,” recalls Poole. “I was part of a big band, a school big band, that was backing him up at a jazz conference – and I remember him playing ‘way faster than I could play.” He laughs.
“He had an arrangement of the old cartoon theme for The Flintstones, called “Flintstoned,” and it went really fast. I did what I could with what I had at the time. It was a learning experience; that’s my point.”
There’ll probably be more learning, along with plenty of entertaining, going on at Sunday’s concert, when Poole joins his NSU Jazz Ensemble in backing Fedchock. The trombonist is flying in from New York for the show, as well as for the Oklahoma Jazz Educators Fall Workshop, which takes place the next day at NSU’s Jazz Lab.
“We’ve got five saxes, four trombones, four trumpets, four in the rhythm section – piano, bass, drums, guitar – and then we’ll add Fedchock in there as well,” he says, referring to the group playing behind Fedchock Sunday. “I’m one of the five [saxophone players].”
Before Fedchock takes the stage, the NSU Jazz Ensemble will start things off with an opening number called “Superbone Meets the Bad Man.”
“It’s kind of a funny title,” notes Poole, “but it was a big hit for Maynard Ferguson. It’ll feature our first trombonist, Zach Gunkel, and our baritone sax player Kaleb Baquera.”
Other soloists who’ll be featured throughout the evening include tenor saxophonist Joe Barger, trumpeter Austin Stunkard, pianist Hiroki Ohsawa, guitarist Nick Meena, bassist Matt Butler, and drummer Katy Peacock.
“It’s always a pleasure working with Dr. Poole and the NSU Jazz Ensemble,” said Jason McIntosh, Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame CEO. “Dr. Poole is a leader in music education, known for developing NSU’s jazz program through energizing young musicians so they can fully reach their potential. ”
“We’re going to do all John Fedchock compositions, except for one of the songs, a standard called `What’s New,’ says Poole. “It’s his arrangement.”
Fedchock’s Grammy nomination was, in fact, for his arranging. His arrangement of his own composition, “Caribbean Fire Dance,” was a finalist for Best Instrumental Arrangement in 2003. It appeared on the John Fedchock New York Big Band’s disc No Nonsense.
Called “a superior jazz trombonist” by noted music critic and writer Leonard Feather and “one of the country’s most accomplished trombonists” by the Cleveland Plain
Dealer, Fedchock made his initial splash in 1980, when he began playing with jazz and big-band legend Woody Herman. He toured with Herman’s Thundering Herd for seven years, working as both music director and featured soloist, and served as musical coordinator and chief arranger for the 1986 Herman disc 50th Anniversary Tour as well as 1987’s Woody’s Gold Star. For his part, the legendary bandleader called Fedchock his “right hand man.” A quote from Herman published on Fedchock’s website (www.johnfedchock.com), adds, “Everything I ask of John he accomplishes, and I ask a lot. He’s a major talent.”
Although Herman passed away in ’87, his orchestra continues to record and tour, and Fedchock continues to be closely associated with the group, composing, arranging, and occasionally playing in the band.
In addition to touring with the likes of T.S. Monk, Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band, Louie Bellson’s Big Band, and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Fedchock has recorded four CDs with his own big band. The discs New York Big Band and On the Edge were included in Downbeat magazine’s list of best CD’s of the ’90s, and the group’s Hit the Bricks was similarly honored by the publication as one of the best of 2000.
A strong advocate for arts in education, Fedchock holds a master’s degree in jazz studies and contemporary music from the Eastman School of Music and conducts seminars and workshops at universities and colleges across the country. In addition to headlining the Sunday afternoon concert and appearing at the Oklahoma jazz educators’ meeting in Tahlequah, he plans to spend time working with the members of the NSU Jazz Ensemble at the Jazz Depot, prior to their performance.
John Fedchock, Tommy Poole, and the NSU Jazz Ensemble are set to begin at5:00p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3 at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets can be purchased at the depot, fromwww.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.
The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2013 Autumn Concert Series.
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fameis a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.