Pete Ellman Big Band gives youth a chance to perform with jazz greats
Jazz great Tom Garling performed with the Gregory Middle School Jazz Ensemble, directed by Emily Binder, at Mullen’s in Lisle on Thurs., May 10, just prior to the performance by The Pete Ellman Big Band.
What’s more, the students in the Gregory Jazz Band Ensemble debuted a new song, Two-Base Hit, written by Garling that had been commissioned by Ellman’s Music Center and the Pete Ellman Big Band. The man with the trombone in the purple shirt and the red belt also played a set with the student musicians from Gregory.
“The kids sounded great,” said Pete Ellman, founder of the Pete Ellman Big Band. “They played a new piece we’d commissioned by Tom called Two-Base Hit. I think they had only played it once before at their spring concert.”
Throughout the year, The Pete Ellman Big Band provides opportunities for local youth to perform with professional musicians. Trumpet player Ellman, owner of Ellman’s Music Center, founded the nonprofit band to arrange for ensembles from area schools to open evenings of jazz sounds before The Pete Ellman Big Band plays its gigs. For more than a year, the Pete Ellman Big Band has presented weekly reminders to thank parents for supporting the arts with music lessons for their children.
Prior to their appearance on Thursday evening, students had learned that Garling studied arranging and composition at the Berklee College of Music from 1983 to 1985. In 1986, Garling began touring with the legendary Buddy Rich and his band before the greatest jazz drummer of all times died in 1987.
According to Pete Ellman, Garling has played with such greats as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny and Randy Brecker, to name a few. Garling also has toured with Maynard Fergusons Big Bop Nouveau Band as musical director and trombonist for six years.
Along with his own album, “Maynard Ferguson Presents Tom Garling,” he is featured as soloist, composer/arranger and guitarist on numerous Maynard Ferguson albums. His talents as arranger have been utilized by Maynard Ferguson, Liza Minelli, Tito Puente and Dianne Schuur.
During Thursday’s performance, Binder thanked Pete Ellman for giving her students the opportunity. The real life performances are a chance to play for audiences that choose to hear and appreciate jazz.
Thanks to the Pete Ellman Big Band, playing to an enthusiastic applause-friendly packed house on Thursday night likely will be an experience the students always will remember. On Thurs., May 31, the second piece that Garling wrote for the Pete Ellman Big Band will be performed by students from Downers Grove South.
The Pete Ellman Big Band will continue to perform 8-10 PM Thursdays at Mullen’s in Lisle. School bands take the stage at 7PM.
In addition, the last Tuesday of the month the Pete Ellman Big Band performs from 8-10PM at Potter’s Place. Scheduled dates are May 29, June 26, July 31 and Aug. 28. Performances on the back patio at Potter’s Place are weather permitting.
The Pete Ellman Big Band returns to Fitzgerald’s from 8-11PM, Wed., June 20. Ellman noted that Fitzgerald’s was a jazz club during the ’50s and ’60s, featuring acts like Bob Scobey, Turk Murphy, Lil Armstrong and the Original Salty Dogs. The Fitzgerald family bought and renovated the building in 1980, and since then its reputation for great music in a casual, comfortable, unpretentious setting continually has grown.
For reservations and directions to Fitzgerald’s, located at 6615 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn, call (708) 788-2118.
The Pete Ellman Big Band is a “Not For Profit” organization with the purpose to provide a place for student musicians to perform and listen to Big Band music.
“Since our inception we have done just that for almost a thousand students,” said Ellman. “We have commissioned two big band charts for schools and provided numerous clinicians including Wayne Bergeron and Tom Garling.”
The Pete Ellman Big Band adheres by its slogan, “Promoting music with music!”
Ellman’s Music Center, a full-service music store, is located at 508 W. Fifth Ave. For more info, call (630) 355-5880.