Wolverines Classic Jazz Orchestra


WCJO_Best Of_Vol 01
WCJO_Best Of_Vol 02
WCJO_Best Of_Vol 03


Wolverines Classic Jazz Orchestra
Orchestra Hall; Minneapolis, MN

The Original

Wolverines Classic Jazz Orchestra

Orchestra Hall; Minneapolis, MN


Orchestra Hall, a major, high profile venue. An organization called Loring-Nicollet-Bethlehem Community Services hired us to be the main attraction for their annual fundraiser.

As we were setting up in the afternoon, the main Orchestra Hall sound engineer figured we wouldn’t need much amplification; but I told him I wanted lots of strategic microphones. He wasn’t particularly pleased, but did it. The thing is: we normally played all of our gigs with a full PA system (that we would haul along with the rest of the equipment)—we would set it up with a bit of reverb to make the sound more full. Yes, Orchestra Hall had great natural reverb, but we still needed the mics for special focus. And it all came across beautifully, for the audience and for us re: hearing ourselves.

This was obviously a very special occasion, so I (as I have in many other instances) figured we should have a Special Guest: a young ‘hot-shot’ Trumpet player from the U of MN, Dave Jensen, whom we nicknamed ‘Jabbo Junior’ because we’d assigned him to play note-for-note solos of a Trumpet Ace of the 1920’s, Cladys (his parents thought they were getting a girl and had chosen ‘Gladys’ for a name; out came this boy, so they changed the first letter) ‘Jabbo’ Smith. He was the chief rival of the very hot Louis Armstrong. It was said that, in some ways, he had more ‘chops’ than Louis; and his solos were truly unique. Most special was Jabbo’s ‘concert piece’ "Rhythm In Spain"; and Dave did a bang-up job (even topping Jabbo’s ending note with super-high one, which I thought was terrific, but an audience member later thought was ‘inappropriate’. We also gave Dave space for individual improvisation and obligato augmentation. He got the spirit beautifully on "Speakeasy Blues" and was sailing along with just the right feel, my only regret being that he didn’t continue on the very last verse—still though, the right Feel makes everything beautiful.

The accuracy of the transcriptions was paramount; but also was The Feel. Each player had the original recordings and studied their respective parts as played by the originators. Joe Demko was a great example: A great vocalist ("Trickeration", "Ball and Chain", "Some Of These Day"), but also a cat who studied the Banjo players back then—these weren’t pizza parlor banjo guys, but rather hot-shot jazz orchestra players. Joe copped their styles beautifully.

Collectively, we presented authentic re-creations of the original band recordings; and people were hearing these arrangements in stereo for the first time—cool!

01. Song Of India

Song Of India_WCJO_Orch Hall_MP3

02. Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere

Anytime_WCJO_Orch Hall_MP3

03. Why Couldn't It Be Poor Little Me?

Why Couldn't_WCJO_Orch Hall_MP3

04. Salt Of My Tears

Salt Of Tears_WCJO_Orch Hall_MP3

05. Longshoreman's Blues

Longshoreman's_WCJO_Orch Hall_MP3

06. Apex Blues

Apex Blues_WCJO_Orch Hall_MP3

07. Trickeration

Trickeration_WCJO_Orch Hall_MP3

08. Tozo

Tozo_WCJO_Orch Hall_MP3

09. Speakeasy Blues

Speakeasy Blues_WCJO_Orch Hall_MP3

10. Here Comes My Ball And Chain

Ball and Chain_WCJO_Orch Hall_Mp3

11. Rhythm In Spain

Rhythm Spain_WCJO_Orch Hall_MP3

12. Some Of These Days

Some Days_WCJO_Orch Hall_MP3

13. Copland_Piano Concerto_Excerpts

13_Copland_excerpts_Orch Hall_MP3