"Baby Boomer" musicians were in the right place at the right time. We grew up listening to all the great big bands on radio and television. You could walk down the main boulevard of any city and hear the bands of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, The Dorsey Brothers, Stan Kenton and Harry James perform live.
We were fortunate that as we entered college, jazz education was becoming a legitimate course of study and these great players were alive and performing at high schools and colleges across the country. We attended clinics and lectures with these legends and they were guest soloists with our bands. We heard them speak about the creative process and absorbed their love of the music. What a special time to be learning our craft.
Sadly, most of them are gone now. But those of us who were touched by these masters and appeared on stage with them still use that knowledge and experience when we perform with today's top entertainers, Broadway shows and the remaining few "name" big bands.
You can't just stroll down the boulevard to hear this music anymore, so it's up to us to preserve the quality and spirit of this tradition.
The Boulevard Big Band recorded this, their debut CD, live in concert, not in a studio in order to keep alive the musical energy, creativity and variety that you could once find when you spent "A Night on the Boulevard."
Leader and trumpet player John Pendenza has toured with the bands of Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Warren Covington and the Pied Pipers, and The New Xavier Cugat Orchestra.
His free-lance career includes performing in the pits of such Broadway musicals as "Crazy For You", "Catskills On Broadway," "Will Rogers Follies,", and "Starlight Express."
He has played lead trumpet for entertainers such as Cher, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Mel Torme, Shirley Bassey, Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles and Yes.