The Bay Area Composer's Big Band was organized by Erik Jekabson and Jeanne Geiger in 2008 as a reading band for new big band music by local composers. These readings allow the composers to hear works in progress and to adjust and refine them accordingly prior to public performance. The players are drawn from the San Francisco Bay Area's top big bands including the Marcus Shelby Orchestra, Realistic Orchestra, the Mitch Marcus Quintet Plus 13, and the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra.

This past April, the band enjoyed being featured at Gualala's Whale and Jazz Festival, playing to a very appreciative and full house. We thought it went well, as did the local reviewer.

‘An exciting glimpse at the future of jazz’ by J. Stephen McLaughlin

It was like eight concerts in one: the Main Event of the Redwood Coast Whale & Jazz Festival filled the stage at the Gualala Arts Center Saturday night with the Bay Area Composers Jazz Ensembles. There is a bright future for jazz with these creative and talented young people. The 18-piece ensemble was augmented by special guests Elena Pinderhughes on flute, and vocalist Zoë Presley.

The ensemble was formed by trumpeter Erik Jekabson and trombonist Jeanne Geiger so local jazz composers could develop their musical ideas, and many of the player-composers, themselves, highlighted their own original compositions throughout the concert. For the first half, personnel was shuffled for nearly every piece, as jazz styles from pulsating samba to avant-garde were featured in turn. The mainstay and foundation of the sound in nearly every piece was the versatile and innovative rhythm section of bassist Tommy Folen, and Eric Garland, drums, with Colin Hogan on piano, augmented by Jon Monahan, guitar.

The entire ensemble played the second set. With solid brass sections &mdash four trumpets, four trombones, and a great blending of reeds with two alto, two tenor and a baritone sax, plus flute and clarinets &mdash the live sound of a big band blew the roof off the Gualala Arts Center. The set opened with an original tone poem written for the occasion by Jekabson, ‘Gualala’, which evoked the real feeling of the place through its musical effects. Elena Pinderhughes, now 15 years old, is a veteran of the 2007 and 2008 Redwood Coast Whale & Jazz Festivals. Her jazz savvy and insight is remarkable in a player of any age. Zoë Presley, who performed last year with Cloudfire at the festival, performed for the first time with the big band on the stage. Great instrumental charts were written by Jeanne Geiger from Presley's original song. Fred Adler, jazz host on KTDE 100.5 FM, is the musical director of the festivals, and has consistently brought innovative, must-hear groups to our venues. In the eight years of the Redwood Coast Whale & Jazz Festival, it would be hard to top this concert.

From April 23, 2010 Independent Coast Observer

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The band was graced with good weather, great festival organization, and an appreciative crowd at the 2010 Whale and Jazz Festival in Gualala on April 17, 2010.