Urban Renewal Cool Jazz Octet
This is the newest ensemble in Urban Renewal Jazz. This ensemble formed in early 2020 and began rehearsing regularly, just as COVID-19 caused an interruption to activities. The mission of this group is to feature the so-called "West Coast" style of jazz, also known as "cool jazz," that emerged in the mid-1950s. This genre predated the period most people associate with the beginning of "modern jazz", often pinpointed to 1959 with landmark albums by Miles Davis, John Coltrane and others who became known as the giants of modern jazz.
But before that time, we were already seeing jazz take a major step beyond the well-established, often formulaic sounds of WWII big bands. The mid-50s ushered in a new style that was more rhythmic, often more dissonant, used faster tempos, and was tight, tight, tight. Musicians like Art Blakey, Dave Pell, Shorty Rogers, Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan and many others pioneered this style that was lighter and more elegant than the more muscular sounds typical of the New York scene.
This "cool school" was too laid-back for many jazz aficionados, so it always was seen as a little off the beaten path, and was further elbowed out of the way in the following decades by hard-charging bebop and a period of more electronic jazz-rock-funk fusion. This west coast jazz art form is mostly unknown in the central Indiana area because few bands feature music of this style.
The Urban Renewal Cool Jazz Octet serves to give new life to the "west coast" style, performing compositions and arrangements of that era, as well as many original arrangements of modern tunes, performed in the west coast style. In addition, the octet also includes in its repertoire many arrangements of more conventional jazz pieces, in order to offer any audience something they can enjoy.
Central Indiana has been an important part of the modern jazz era, producing many highly influential musicians like JJ Johnson, Freddie Hubbard, Wes Montgomery, Slide Hampton and many others. Part of our mission is to feature the music of these central Indiana jazz legends.
Our library consists of a few "stock arrangements", some transcriptions of seminal jazz works and numerous arrangements written exclusively for this band. Our ever-growing book includes some of the best compositions of legends like:
The instrumentation of this ensemble is unlike other bands one is likely to see on the Indy jazz scene. We use a conventional rhythm section of piano, bass, and drums. The horn section is entirely different from other bands. Visually, this octet may appear like a so-called "little big band" that attempts to simulate the power and style of a full jazz big band using fewer instrumentalists. That is not what this octet is about.
We use a 5-piece horn front of trumpet, trombone, alto sax, tenor sax, and bari sax. But unlike a "little big band", each instrument has its own distinctive voice. The instruments are not usually scored in sections, like a big band. Instead, each player plays an equal rule, holding down a part that is full of independence and counterpoint. The goal is not to overpower the listener with a wall of sound, but rather to draw in the audience with a richness of harmonic, rhythmic, and stylistic interest.
This ensemble includes some of the most experienced and masterful jazz musicians in the region. The octet format, together with multi-instrumental talents throughout the band, give us the opportunity to create a wide variety of musical colors and atmospheres that are rarely experienced in live jazz performances.
We hope to see you at one of our performances soon.
Jerome Cheatham: Electric and upright bass
Lawrence Clark: Drums and percussion
Shawn Goodman: Alto sax and clarinet
Nate Hankerson: Tenor sax
Carl Hines: Piano and organ
Craig Parmerlee: Trombone and euphonium
Perry Robertson: Flute and Bari Sax
Ed Zlaty: Trumpet and flugelhorn