Jim Milan, Founder
Jim Milan, Founder
Back in the late 1950's, I heard an album called The Dixieland Story by Matty Matlock. Since his earliest arranging efforts in the early '30's, he has been considered the finest arranger in the Dixieland idiom. In this album, he took 23 standard Dixieland tunes and arranged them for six horns and 4 rhythm. They were all well-known Dixieland tunes. What impressed me so much about the album was the big sound he got out of the six horns, two trumpets, two trombones, a clarinet and a baritone sax, plus piano, bass, guitar and drums.
The album became my all time favorite. I have listened to it regularly for the past 50 plus years. The charts became something of an obsession with me -- to be able to play them. They were never available on the open market like most successful "big band" charts become. ("Charts" is musician-speak for arrangements.) I even called the LA local to get Matty's address with the hope that he might sell copies of the charts. I learned that Matty and his wife were both deceased; thus, I struck out there.
Three years ago, my wife and I were driving to Chicago, to see our latest great grandchild, when she asked if I had done everything that I wanted to do. She was, of course, referring to my age which at the time was 87. I thought about it, trying to come up with a "bucket list" but could not really think of anything I wanted to do before my demise -- except for playing the Matlock charts. I told her about my not being able to find the charts, etc., and she said I should try again -- go for it!
Not long after, a somewhat amazing thing happened. I was listening to a newly acquired album by Bill Allred, a really fine trombone player who has a Dixie-type group. They mainly appear at Dixieland festivals during the year, and record. One of the tunes he played on the album was one of the Matlock arrangements! I got on the internet, got his email address, and wrote asking him where he got the chart. He wrote back saying that he had acquired the original charts and scores from Matty's son. I asked if he would sell copies. After a couple of days thinking about it, he wrote saying that he would so I ordered four charts. I felt that playing the four would satisfy my "need" to play the music. It didn't, it only whet my appetite. I ultimately acquired the rest of the charts in the album. Finding the guys to play them was another matter. After several false starts, I was able to put together the present group of horn players, all of them "A" players.
The best venue is one where people come to "listen" to jazz, such as the TCU Jazz Festival. Our first public performance was for the 2011 festival. The group was very well received, having a 60 second standing ovation at the conclusion of our performance.
All of us in the band are committed to the fact that this music needs to be played and heard in this area. Two generations have grown up without ever having the opportunity to hear what good, well-arranged dixieland jazz really sounds like.
The guys are all devoted to playing the charts and are content to be a "kicks" band. Given my age, the name of the band is most appropriate -- The Bucket List Jazz Band.