Originally published in Earshot Jazz November 2011
When Robin Holcomb reviewed artists for Seattle’s funding organization Artist Trust, one of her assignments was the Seattle Woman’s Jazz Orchestra (SWOJO). After attending one of their weekly rehearsals, the director, Daniel Barry, heard Holcomb’s big band – the Washington Composers Orchestra (WACO). WACO’s roots are in New York’s downtown scene from the 1980’s where Holcomb and husband Wayne Horvitz wrote for and rehearsed the New York Composers Orchestra (NYCO). This ensemble was a slimmed down big band – five saxophones, three trumpets, two trombones, French horn, and rhythm section.
Impressed by the music, Barry invited Holcomb to write for SWOJO. For this concert, SWOJO will perform selections of Holcomb’s big band music rearranged for the larger ensemble, a piece originally written for the ROVA saxophone quartet, and premier a new work written for this event.
The music library for SWOJO is very deep. Holcomb says, “I think my new piece is number 206 in the book.”
Holcomb’s big band music is a new chapter for SWOJO. With its programmatic terrain, shifting densities between figurative and abstract sections, and room for free improvisation this repertoire will be an interesting adventure for both performers and audience.