Various live recordings of Mike James (most recent at top)

The Mike James Trio:

The trio is: Tom Bargelski on keyboard, Dirk Westfall on bass, Mike James on drums. In addition to the songs below, check out the separate list on my player, to the right here. (Clicking any of the other tunes links on this page will open them in a new window.)

Here are four live recordings of us in concert with Greta Matassa, 04-15-07: Greta is an awesome jazz singer and educator from Seattle, and it was our pleasure to work with her. Visit Greta's' web site at http://www.gretamatassa.com.

So Nice To Come Home To (3.4 MB)   Body and Soul (3.8 MB)   Once I Had A Secret Love (4.2 MB)

And... One from our concert with Owuor Arunga, Seattle trumpet player, 02-18-07: Red Clay

"'Round Midnight"

"'Round Midnight" (playing above) and "In A Sentimental Mood" (below) are live recordings of us in concert with Michael Powers, 03-18-07: My trio is keyboard, bass, and drums. So, everything else you hear on these, including guitar, is coming from Michael Powers, who plays a ("Frame Works") MIDI controller guitar. Visit Michael Powers' web site at http://www.michaelpowersmusic.com.

"In A Sentimental Mood"

It's worth noting that these concerts were all unrehearsed, because these guest artists only flew in a couple of hours before the performance. So considering that we're reading charts, watching for cues, and playing with these people for the first time, I'm pretty happy with them. Although recorded in 4-track digital, the clips posted here are "Track 1" only, which is the sound from a single (AKG "Perception 100") condenser microphone, hung from the ceiling in front of the band. (no mixing, no editing, and no effects... They're honest.)

(Note: Turn off the player above, before playing the clips below.)

Live recordings from a big band concert I produced in 2001:


In 2001, I decided to put a 17-piece jazz big band together, plus 4 vocalists, using the best musicians in Anchorage, (Credits at the bottom of this page) for a one-night-only concert. Many of them were active Air Force personnel. Thus, their availability for rehearsals was extremely limited. On a tight schedule, with 16 tunes to rehearse, we did all the preparation we could in just three 2-hour rehearsals! (So, each chart was played a maximum of 3 times, before the actual concert.) These were all "grade 5" TOUGH charts, and everybody did a GREAT job! This concert was recorded live, (from the mixing board) direct to MiniDisk, February 4th, 2001. (no post processing or editing)

* Some commercial publishers including Kendor Music, for example, use a "grading" system to describe the difficulty of their charts.
The difficulty levels are 1 through 5, with 5 being the most difficult.

The performance is not perfect by any means. If you know these charts, you'll recognize some rough spots. Typically, the band sounds better at the end of each tune, as we became more comfortable. That's what limited rehearsals get you. I'm making these files available for you to hear, regardless of the imperfections, because it was a FUN concert for us. I hope you'll enjoy it too.

These were recorded direct from the mixing board, and the mix varies somewhat, mostly due to soloists. So, I suggest listening to these either through headphones, or at least relatively-loud, through your stereo system. Crank it up!
  • Misty - Fast swing - Arranged by Mike James - Melissa "Jazzmom" Fischer sings - Features George Mancini on trombone. Melissa does this tune "up" like this in her trio. So, I wrote the big band arrangement with the same form she uses, to minimize rehearsal time. (4.5MB)
  • Red and Blue - Medium shuffle - Composed and Arranged by Mike James - I clipped the beginning off this one, because there was a sound problem during that section. George Mancini on trombone, and Melissa "Jazzmom" Fischer on piano. Includes the "Special Edition" ending... I was liking the way this one sounded by the end. (3.7MB)
  • Why Bother? - Fast swing - Composed and Arranged by Matt Harris - This one will make you sweat... Randy Scherer plays the trumpet solo - Melissa "Jazzmom" Fischer plays the piano solo. Matt Harris graciously loaned me this chart, specifically for this concert... Wish we had a few more rehearsals, but lots of fun anyway. Thank you, Matt! (5MB)
  • Drums and Congas - Midway through the concert, my good friend (and great drummer) Greg Holloway and I did a little "percussion exchange", with Greg playing congas and samba whistle, and me on drums. You'll hear me laughing at several points, because Greg was just killing me with his blazing hand speed on the congas. Here's a portion of that. (2 MB)
  • I Just Found Out About Love - Medium swing - Arranged by Don Menza - Cynthia Morris sings. This tune and the next one have a special meaning to many of us, because Cynthia had been diagnosed with cancer at the time, and sacrificed a lot to be involved in this event. Sadly, we lost her not too long after that, but I know she had a blast singing, and will always remember her that way. (2.6MB)

    *Note - If you think jazz is glamorous, check this interview with Don Menza. Fans of Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich, and others know who Don Menza is, and may be surprised at what he has to say. Don has announced (2006) that he's "hanging up his sax and moving to Germany". (!)
  • I'm Beginning to See the Light - Medium swing - Adapted from Natalie Cole arrangement by Mike James - Cynthia Morris sings (4MB)
  • Blame It On My Youth - Gorgeous ballad - Adapted from the Holly Cole arrangement by Mike James - Melissa "Jazzmom" Fischer sings - George Mancini on trombone (5.5MB)
  • It Don't Mean A Thing - Fast swing - Arranged by Kerry Maule - Judi Westfall sings - Randy Scherer and Ted Stearns on trumpet, with Jeff Baird on Alto. (3.5MB)
  • Black Coffee - Medium Blues - Arranged by Mike James - Judi Westfall sings (You might notice that she's announced as "Judi Waters"... She subsequently married bassist Dirk Westfall, so that's why the name change.) - Jerry Kelley on guitar. (5.4MB)
  • Walkin' - Medium Blues - Based on the Stanley Turrentine arrangement, Adapted by Mike James - This was a mid-concert chart that (after the intro!) let the horn players rest a bit, while the band "stretched". It builds constantly, from the solos to the end...Fun! Jeff Baird is the featured saxophonist, with Greg Holloway, who is an outstanding drummer and educator, on vibes, George Mancini on trombone, Tom Bargelski on keyboard, and Dirk Westfall on bass. (10.4MB)
  • Mike James drum solo (from another performance) I post this for people who like it "short and to the point". It was a section of a "Bebop Medley", in a show band I was with back in 1984, at the Buena Vista Palace, at Disneyworld, Florida. The leader asked me to make it about one minute in length, and to draw applause at the end, when he would be coming back on stage. So... that's what I did.. (1.1MB)

Just click any of the links to download the MP3 file, then use your favorite player to play them.

Here are a few snapshots from the performance.

Thanks to all those involved (below) for helping me create a really fun night!

Trumpets:

Ted Stearns, Jerry Soukup, Randy Schearer, Eric Kawamura

Trombones:

George Mancini. Paul Fredericksen, Greg Solomon

Saxophones:

Richard Baum (Alto/Flute), Lon Throop (Alto/Flute), Jeff Baird (Tenor/Alto/Soprano), Kathy Nordeen (Tenor), Jeff Brayfield (Bari/Flute)

Rhythm Section:

Dirk Westfall (Bass), Tom Bargelski (Piano), Melissa "Jazzmom" Fischer (Piano), Greg Holloway (Vibes and Percussion), Jerry Kelly (Guitar), Mike James (Drums)

Vocalists:

Judi Waters, Melissa "Jazzmom" Fischer, Cynthia Morris, "Big Mitch" Tubman

Sadly, Mitch's tunes didn't record well enough to be included here, but he did his usual outstanding job!

Sound:

Tim Brye

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