A decade is an eternity in the life of a jazz orchestra, but it’s not mere longevity that makes the Montclair Women’s Big Band 10th anniversary such a notable occasion. The Bay Area ensemble has set an enviable standard by every measure, serving as a potent rebuke to a scene that still often marginalizes female players. With a vivid cast of musical personalities, the MWBB combines an audacious sense of swing, tight ensemble work, and inspired solos.
Led by veteran trumpeter Ellen Seeling (and assistant director, saxophonist Jean Fineberg), the group has become a magnet for ambitious women musicians, most of whom also lead their own bands. She launched the ensemble in 1998 along with her business partner Barbara Price, who owns the beautifully refurbished Montclair Women’s Art Club in Oakland, which serves as the band’s home base. Above all the MWBB’s mission is to swing, and the 17-piece combo delivers a brassy, blues-drenched wallop, adding a strong feel for Latin grooves to a book redolent of Count Basie and Thad Jones. A strong command of the rollicking Kansas City sound makes the MWBB a particularly apt choice for the 13th Annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center on May 17.
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“The hard-swinging Montclair Women’s Big Band headlined the sold-out house at the 13th Annual Mary Lou Williams Women In Jazz Festival…the group’s CD is a blues-drenched gem that swings with dazzling aplomb.” (David Pulizzi, Jazziz Magazine)
“The big band from Oakland featured several fine soloists...a knockout! (Larry Appelbaum, JazzTimes)
“What stands out are the arrangements that take full advantage of the band’s expansive sound and gifted soloists.” (Mike Joyce, The Washington Post)
“Very impressive.” (Marian McPartland)
“On behalf of the GRAMMY Foundation we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks
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