An almost forgotten jazz composer
DUANE TATRO and his JAZZ HERITAGE: JAZZ FOR MODERNS
A few days ago I bought myself a reissue in the Original Jazz Classics series the Collectors Choice 50; a copy of the Contemporary album Jazz for Moderns by Duane Tatro, with a great cover photo by William Claxton. The name Duane Tatro was new to me, but the men, who played in his band were all known west coast jazz musicians from the 1950s, like Stu Williamson, Bob Enevoldsen, Lennie Niehaus, Jimmy Giuffre, Bob Gordon and Shelly Manne ( to list some of the most well known). I learned that this record turned out to be the only one dedicated to his music as a composer-arranger.
His eleven compositions here are redolent of several of the "futuristic" trends in West Coast jazz of the period. The octet scores are full of striking textures, sounds and directions - jazz may not have gone this way, but it's still fascinating to listen back to what might have happened (cover text).
Who is this Duane Tatro? Duane Tatro was born in Van Nuys, California, May, 1927. His family moved to Decorah, Iowa when he was just a baby. His father, constructed radios, which were known, in the 1930s and 1940s, as Farm radios, because they could be used with 6VDC rechargeable batteries or on farms where they had a 32VDC electrical system. In Decorah, Iowa the factory was located: L. Tatro Radios. As a 14 years old boy the family moved to California, where Duane learned about jazz - working in a restaurant, named Waterloo, he heard the orchestra of Larry Clinton, Woody Herman and Tommy Dorsey playing in the dance hall next to the place. As he loved to play that music, he started to save money to buy his first instrument - thanks to his father he could obtain a clarinet and not long after that he bought himself a tenor saxophone. During the war he played gigs with USO groups. USO means United Service Organizations Inc. and was founded in 1941 as a private, nonprofit organization that provides morale and recreational services to members of the U.S. military. Nowadays it is stil active with programs in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He decided to become a member of the Union. His first band was led by Mel Tormé. He received an invitation from Stan Kenton to join his orchestra, but as was still at high school, they had some doubts excepting it. But ....... he did ... and so he became a member of the Stan Kenton band, which was on tour with the Bob Hope show. But when the tour finished and the band returned to the east, Duane left the band and went back to school again. When he had finished high school he played in overall dance orchestras and joined the navy. When the war had ended he started as a musician in a navy band of the Great Lakes. Being a member of that band, he became interested in writing music and arranging tunes for the band. He became a student in music at the University of Southern California.
Stu Williamson (tp) Bob Enevoldsen (vtb) Vincent De Rosa (frh) Lennie Niehaus (as) Bill Holman (ts) Bob Gordon (bars) Ralph Peña (b) Shelly Manne (d) Duane Tatro (arr, cond). Recorded in Los Angeles, CA, April 4, 1955
Low Clearance - Outpost - Maybe Next Year - Conversation Piece
Stu Williamson (tp) Bob Enevoldsen (vtb) Vincent De Rosa (frh) Joe Maini Jr. (as) Bill Holman (ts) Jimmy Giuffre (bars) Ralph Peñna (b) Shelly Manne (d) Duane Tatro (arr, cond) Recorded Los Angeles, CA, November 1, 1955
Minor Incident Dollar Day - Easy.
These eleven tracks were released for Contemporary records March 1956 as Jazz For Moderns. In 1955, after he had finished the Contemporary recordings of his compositions ( Duane is not active on saxophone or any other instrument in these recordings), he started a “serious” career in electronics. The original liner notes, written by Lester Koenig, learn that he became the production manager of an electronic plant and that he didn't had time to compose at that moment. Lennie Niehaus en Bob Gordon
Some of his compositions have been recorded by others, like Divertimento, which was recorded by Red Norvo in March 1957 and Maybe Next Year was recorded by Art Pepper in October 1960. Another composition: Concerto For Electric Guitar and Orchestra was specially created for guitar player Howard Roberts ( 1977)
Duane Tatro is nowadays vice president of the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers and participates in the Meet The Composer programs at both San Diego and New Mexico State University. He made a great career as composer of film music, for films and TV like the series M*A*S*H . Enjoy a compilation of some of his, most classical orientated compositions.
What about the music: In the liner notes by Lester Koenig, founder of Contemporary Records in 1951, he describes the discussion if these tracks are jazz or classical compositions. Tatro's eleven maturely conceived and executed pieces, while utilizing the an-atonal and polyphonic techniques of 20th century compositions, still retail the basic swing and feeling of jazz. The descriptions of Duane Tarto himself in the liner notes suggest that this is hard to understand stuff if you're not an expert of "modern classical music", but, be surprised, playing this great recordings, which is, in my humble opinion, pure west coast jazz. I Listen to some fragments of this reissue at at the Amazon site: ......... Enjoy ............ and get yourself a copy.
Duane Tatro's Jazz For Moderns - It really hit me !! Great West Coast Jazz
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