Wolverines Classic Jazz Orchestra


WCJO_Best Of_Vol 01
WCJO_Best Of_Vol 02
WCJO_Best Of_Vol 03


Wolverines Classic Jazz Orchestra
Ramada Inn; Minneapolis, MN


The Original

Wolverines Classic Jazz Orchestra

Ramada Inn; Mpls.-St. Paul, MN


By this time, we had a full-time Manager, David Louis Rodgers. He was a major factor in our early success, working tirelessly to get us good quality gigs. Somehow, he convinced a suburban Ramada Inn to hire us 6 days (Mon-Sat) a week for a month. Audience turnout/appreciation was irregular and minimal, but we surely sharpened our skills here—we’d learn something from one night and improve on things the next. Plus, we also had our regular Sunday night gig at the Longhorn Saloon downtown Minneapolis. We also had an Ironic Situation: our Tuba/Bass player, Chuck Greve had a regular full-time day-gig (a rarity in our group); and doing both took its toll—when we’d take a break, Chuck would hunker down behind the music stands and nap.

Several of these charts were/are on our first LP record, which I’m glad we made, but was a bit disappointed in the overall quality and feel. This gig, however, got most everything right: good PA settings, good execution and feel from players.

Of special note are the two Jazz-related Classical pieces: “Copland Piano Concerto Excerpts” and “Riffs” (Leonard Bernstein). On special occasions, I always featured Special Arrangements by Classical composers writing in a Jazz style (theoretically, at least). This Ramada gig wasn’t that ‘special’ per se (not like Orchestra Hall where we featured both of these charts), but I figured this was a good place for us to practice these (many times, there’s be no one in the audience).

We still had Mark Bryn on Piano and Johnny Olson on Violin, so we could do specialty charts that enhanced the variety aspect.

I’m glad we did the Jabbo Smith tribute “Lina Blues”. Jabbo was soon to be our Special Guest at the Commodore Hotel (a whole ‘nother story): kudos to Dave Sletten for handling all of the Alto Sax riffing.

Also of note: “Squeeze Me”. I played lead Alto Sax, but switched to Tenor Sax (a rarity for me) for the solo after the Trombone solo. Not bad for a Norwegian-derived Minnesotan.

Truth be told, we were not what you’d call ‘professional’ players in the strict sense of the word (read anything, improvise effectively), but rather a bunch of highly motivated ‘fakirs’ who took a Classical Approach—study the originals and play as close as possible to the way the originators did. 100% Authenticity, most importantly including original solos (which few if any other classic jazz bands bother with).

01. Wang Wang Blues

Wang Wang_WCJO_Ramada_MP3

02. Congaine


03. New Down Home Blues

New Down Home_WCJO_Ramada_MP3

04. Bozo


05. Cincinnati Daddy

Cincy Daddy_WCJO_Ramada_MP3

06. Lina Blues

Lina Blues_WCJO_Ramada_MP3

07. Squeeze Me

Squeeze Me_WCJO_Ramada_MP3

08. Oh Sister, Ain't That Hot!

Oh Sister_WCJO_Ramada_MP3

09. San - Challis


10. Hop Off

Hop Off_WCJO_Ramada_MP3

11. Copland Piano Concerto


12. Riffs - Bernstein