Anita Brown


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Steve Wilson, Anita, Tony Kadleck & Keith O'Quinn, Birdland, July 2010.


I am quite ecstatic to announce that beginning with this month's issue, I will have a column in JazzEd Magazine.  It is entitled The Leading Edge and was inspired by my deep affinity for the role of the respective lead players of a big band or jazz orchestra: Lead Alto, Trombone and Trumpet players.

In my two decades of observation on the New York jazz scene I have learned so many things by listening and observing interaction between section leaders, section players and band leaders.  I have heard and felt the importance of each lead player's contribution to rehearsal and performance alike, in bands such as The Woody Herman Band, Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Nouveau, The Count Basie Orchestra, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (a.k.a. Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra), Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi Big Band, Fedchock/Schneider Big Band, Maria Schneider Orchestra, John Fedchock's New York Big Band, The Don Sebesky Band (featuring John Pizzarelli), The Mingus Big Band, Dizzy's All-Star Big Band, Bob Mintzer Big Band, Loren Schoenberg Big Band, BMI New York Jazz Orchestra , Diane Moser's Composers' Big Band, Gary Morgan's PanAmericana, Pete McGuinness Big Band, New Yorkestra, Mike Holober's Gotham Jazz Orchestra, Lew Anderson Big Band, Arturo O'Farrill Big Band, Mike Davis' Trumpets Eleven, The Frank Wess Nonet and an incredibly tight 12-piece, NY funk band,  The Funk Filharmonik, as well as Tower of Power and the Saturday Night Live Band.

My observation and assimilation of all this has guided my decisions both as a band leader and a composer/arranger for many years.  In the extensive liner notes of my CD, "27 EAST," I tip my hat to the lead players for their role in shaping my music and the recording itself.  In particular, those lead players include Dave Pietro, lead alto, Mark Patterson, lead trombone and Jon Owens, lead trumpet with appearances in the latter role (on one track each) by Greg Gisbert and Nick Marchione.


My column, The Leading Edge, in JazzEd Magazine seeks to illuminate the perspective of nine of New York's finest big band lead players: three, respectively, of each section. These players were selected with the strict criteria that they had a significant hand in assisting and inspiring me to shape my own music over the past 20 years through my hearing and observing them in rehearsal, performance and through conversation prompted by my endless stream of questions, which they have all navigated with patience and poise through the years.

They are: 

Lead Alto

Dave Pietro: Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi Big Band
Steve Wilson:
Maria Schneider Orchestra, Smithsonian Jazz Orchestra
Dick Oatts:
The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band

Lead Trombone  

Mark Patterson: Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra, Dennis Mackrel Big Band
Keith O'Quinn:
Maria Schneider Orchestra, Bob Mintzer Big Band
John Fedchock:
John Fedchock's New York Big Band, Woody Herman Orchestra

Lead Trumpet

Jon Owens: Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra, BMI New York Jazz Orchestra
Tony Kadleck:
Maria Schneider Orchestra, John Fedchock's New York Big Band
Earl Gardner:
Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, The Mingus Big Band, SNL Band


The research for this article took the form of comprehensive interviews.  Most of the players spent an inordinate amount of time answering a series of in-depth questions via e-mail.  A few opted to meet with me personally for a sit down, recorded interview, from which I transcribed and extracted answers.

The column will offer the players' answers to each of the questions, one question and one issue at a time.  Due to word count constraints their answers will necessarily be truncated.  However, each player's full answer will be offered here, on this blog, one question and player at a time.  This will become a place where you can ask questions of them and they will be able to answer your questions, in most cases.  (Keep in mind, some, like myself, are not comfortable with technology, and may opt out of participating in said forum.) 


I hope you will pick up a hard copy or subscribe online for the September issue of JazzEd Magazine.  I know you will enjoy reading the insights of these stellar and esteemed lead players as much as I have enjoyed opening up this dialogue for this all-too-often overlooked, albeit significant and defining role in large-ensemble jazz.

If you haven't already, please consider joining the new incarnation of IAJE (International Association for Jazz Education) which is called JEN (Jazz Education Network)  at for your free subscription to JazzEd Magazine.  You can also see the publication online at


Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra is a Charter Partner of the Jazz Education Network.  Please look for information regarding the second annual conference, scheduled for January 6-8, 2011 in New Orleans, LA.!/AnitaBrownMusic!/pages/Anita-Brown-Jazz-Orchestra/122899935157?ref=ts

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