Octobop Band - West Coast Jazz

Octobop Band - West Coast Jazz

Of all the jazz styles to emerge since 1920, West Coast cool jazz has been (next to fusion) the critics, partly because it was based in Los Angeles rather than New York. Ever since it became overshadowed by hard bop by 1960, cool jazz has become almost extinct, living on only in the playing of some of its surviving practitioners and at Ken Poston's memorable jazz festivals. One can hear it played today by the Dave Pell Octet and the Phil Norman Tentet (though the latter group has modernized in recent times) but otherwise it mostly survives as a subtle influence rather than a separate style.

Octobop hopes to change all that. The Northern California-based octet's second release features four Gerry Mulligan pieces ("Rocker," "Walkin' Shoes," "Night Lights" and "Jeru") plus selections by Marty Paich, Bill Holman, Bud Shank, Shorty Rogers, Art Pepper, Dave Pell and Neal Hefti. The leader, Geoff Roach, adapted the majority of the arrangements for the group so these versions are not mere copies of the past. None of the musicians (which include Roach on baritone, alto and bass sax, trumpeter Randy Smith and Matt Kesner on reeds) are particularly well known but their solos are concise and meaningful, and the sound of the ensembles perfectly fit the style. The players have a real feel for the West Coast idiom.

Geoff Roach – Baritone, Alto, Tenor, Bass sax and Alto Flute. Geoff is a native of New Orleans where he first became addicted to great music, spicy foods, good times and still managed to obtain advanced degrees from Clemson University, the University of Missouri, and the University of Phoenix. Working in the United States and Europe, Geoff has performed with Mel Torme, Nelson Riddle, Tom Jones, Bob Hope, as well as many musicals, shows, and other productions. Geoff studied arranging and theory with David Baker, Don Haas, and Charles Barber. His primary influences in playing and writing include Gerry Mulligan, James Moody, Sam Butera, Bill Holman, Marty Paich, Nelson Riddle, and Henry Mancini. From 2005 through 2010, Geoff was also CEO of San Jose Jazz, producers of the San Jose Jazz Festival. He is still trying to create the perfect gumbo.

Jack Conway – Guitar. Starting on the guitar in 1962, Jack has studied with Bill Courtial, Jerry Hahn, Charles Gustavson, and Art Lande. Jack has played in many different groups and orchestras from folk groups, jazz groups and community theater. Among his influences are Groucho Marx, Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery, Father Guido Sarducci, Jim Hall, Freddie Greene and Alan Greenspan. Besides playing guitar in Octobop, Jack arranges and contributes his originals to the band library.

Eric Patience - Tenor and Alto sax. Picked up clarinet in 5th grade and began doubling on alto sax and flute in High School, where he received a several outstanding soloist awards at a number California jazz festivals. After receiving a B.A. in History, he worked for 5 years trading stock options in San Francisco while restoring vintage sports cars in his spare time. In search of adventure, he moved to Japan and spent the next 13 years living and playing professionally with a wide variety of jazz and funk groups.

Randy Smith – Trumpet and Flugelhorn. Randy, a native Californian, has played trumpet since 1960. A PhD from the University of California at San Diego, he has toured much of the United States and Europe playing in jazz, rock, and popular music groups. Randy also plays keyboards, and has written and arranged music for various ensembles.

Jon Schermer - Trombone. Jon grew up in St Louis, MO and started playing trombone in the 5th grade. After college he spent a few years playing music on cruise ships and moved to California in 1982. Before joining Octobop Jon played with Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, The Black Tie Jazz Orchestra, A Touch of Brass and Silicon Gulch Traditional Jazz Band.

Brian Brockhouse - Bass. Brian (the guy with the bass) grew up in the south -- primarily in New Orleans, with stints in Houston and Midland, Texas. As did so many of his contemporaries, he began playing guitar in his teens in order to meet girls. Eventually, rather than giving up guitar, he started playing bass in order to get gigs. He has lived in the Bay Area for more than twenty years, wielding both instruments in various combos, big bands, and pit orchestras. A recovering software engineer, he also teaches music, writes poetry and fiction, and occasionally works the game clock at his daughter's water polo games.

Rick Gray - Vibes. Rick is a native of Flint, Michigan where he first starting playing professionally at 15 years of age. He's traveled across the country with a variety of bands and has lived in the the San Francisco Bay Area for the last 21 years, playing in many different jazz bands, large and small. Rick also plays piano, guitar, bass, and flute. His day gig is
maintaining and repairing pipe organs throughout California.

Michael Henning - Drums. Michael is an up and coming young drummer on the Bay Area music scene. A recipient of both the prestigious Semper Fidelis Award for Musical Excellence and the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award, Michael is currently a Business Major at San Jose State University. Michael has studied drums with Mark Foglia, Tommy Igoe, and Omar Ledezma Jr. and has recorded and performed with the legendary Tom Scott, Terry Miller, Bob Athayde, and Mary Fettig, among many others. In addition to Octobop, Michael keeps busy playing for groups around the Bay Area, as well as headlining his East Bay group The Michael Henning Collective.



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