Sunday 3 April 2011

Homewood-Flossmoor High School Big Band concert in Madrid, Spain

Great concert last night here in Madrid, Spain by the Big Band from Homewood- Flossmoor High, near-ish Chicago, Illinois, USA. Okay, I just googled that and checked that Flossmoor is some 35 miles/56 km from the Windy City.
Well, there was tons of big city energy in the set by these wonderful young musicians, led by their inspiring Director, Sarah Whitlock. They kicked off with an arrangement of Chick Corea’s Spain and ended with Johnson’s Sweet Home Chicago, neatly looking ahead to their flight back home today. I loved the trumpet section in Taylor’s Brass Machine, some really good ensemble work there, and the programme had lots of variety, including Bebop N’ Georgia, a moving I Remember Clifford, and some nifty Nestico.

It is not really fair to single out any particular soloists, because this  wonderful group of young people all excelled themselves, but yes, I really enjoyed listening to the tenor sax, the alto who moved on to clarinet, the vibes player and pianists. In your programme you use the expression set, by which I suppose you mean drum kit, sorry I’m English. Well, your drummers are great, very exciting and managed to add complex solos without losing the beat, not as easy as it sounds. Then of course, the amazing bass player, complete with Jimi Hendrix impersonation: do these kids know who JH is? And I loved your amazing trombone section. Just right near the end,  I thought we had heard it all, up stood the only female player in the band and knocked us all out with a power-trombone solo, following on from her trombone colleagues who had previously shone in their own right.
Years ago I read a book about Louis Armstrong when he was with a young man in King Joe Oliver’s band, playing a string of high C’s, and I was reminded  of this last night when one of the young trumpeters seemed to be emulating the great master.

The concert was organized thanks to a volunteer group working through a local residents association, called Encuentros Culturales Portugalete, who are funded by the city hall and sponsored by a local radio station, Radio Enlace:
Thanks to Santi and to Robin for arranging this concert when I contacted them after a call from my friends at Wens Travel, specialists in arranging performance tours in Europe for US groups:  Santi and his supporters have been arranging jazz concerts at this venue for the last 7 years, all with free admission, a great achievement.

I am really sorry not to have heard the symphony orchestra play: anyway they all made their presence felt as part of the audience last night.
I think the visitors should know that among the audience were many people who, like myself, play in different Big Bands and combos in Madrid, mainly for fun, like me, and some, like Robin Cooper, as a professional: you can find him at  and

Thanks again to Homewood-Flossmoor Big Band and congratulations to Sarah Whitlock. If you read this please could you send me a link to your photos, I’m sure they are much better than mine and I will let everyone here know the link.
I think Santi summed up how we all felt at the end of the concert when he said, speaking as a trombonist who is well past his 21st birthday: When I grow up I want to play like these kids!

1 comment:

  1. Timothy, Thanks for all your hard work and your support. You have mentioned how great this concert was but I must tell everyone reading this fascinating and interesting blog that we all have to thank you because without your help this concert wouldn't have been possible! Not only this concert, but also the one at Educarte in Pozuelo de Alarcón and the 2 concerts at the British Council School on March 21st and 22nd. All of us in Madrid, Holland, the United States and Canada involved in organising these concerts are very greatful to you! We can not stop saying how lucky we are to have you making our "musical dreams" come true! Gracias, muchas Gracias Timothy! Te queremos mucho por tu incondicional e invaluable ayuda! Un abrazo fuerte desde Holanda. Marisol (Wens Travel)