Astoria Big Band
THE ASTORIA BIG BAND — THE ASTORIA JAZZ BAND
The Astoria Jazz Band is a 12-piece offshoot of the Astoria Big Band. Founded in 1986 by baritone saxophonist Carol Sudhalter, the big band presents concerts to the people of Queens through the borough’s parks, street fairs, churches and events. Its purpose has been to bring new Big Band music to residents of all ages, areas and ethnic backgrounds. To this end, the band works closely with the Queens Council on the Arts, from whom it receives performance and development grants. Response to the band has been enthusiastic at venues as varied as the Forest Park Carousel, Astoria Park Thursday Night Series, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Poppenhusen Institute, New Rochelle Public Library and others. Arrangers for the band include Charlie Camilleri, who has arranged for Eddie Palmieri, Victor Paz and Ambergris; Stanley Bielski; Chris Rinaman, John G. Blair II, Keith Gurland, and the late Charles Ray Loring.
The band had the honor of playing their original arrangements at the Mary Lou Williams Festival at Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. in May of 2005. Arrangers Keith Gurland, Charlie Camillieri, Ray Loring, Julie Mandel, Stanley Bielski and Chris Rinaman were among those featured.
The 12-piece Astoria Jazz Band grew out of the need to present big band-style music in smaller venues that will not hold 16. This band presents several concerts, including the narrated “Queens: A Jazz History of the Borough through the Music and Memories of Leonard Gaskin, Bassist”. Gaskin, a long-time Queens resident, played with the Louis Armstrong All Stars, Big Nick Nicholas and other jazz greats. His lively retelling of his memories, along with all the great musical styles, make this concert a don’t-miss. It has been presented in 2000 at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center at LaGuardia Community College, and at the Queens Museum. In February, 2000, the band presented a special tribute to saxophonist Benny Carter, at the National Arts Club.
The band has two CDs: “Soon”, and “Last Train to Astoria”, as well as an audio cassette, “Who Will Buy?” on Carolina Records.
Bookings/purchase of recordings, call (917) 667-5331 or e-mail Carol.