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Big Band Boston

 

1960s

Santisi performed with the Benny Golson Quartet in the 1960s. Inspired by the Jazz Workshoppers’ camaraderie, Golson wrote the song “Stablemates” about Pomeroy and Haroutunian.

Just before the Stable’s decline, Makanda Ken McIntyre entered the scene. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music composition from The Boston Conservatory of Music in 1958 with a certificate in flute performance, and a master’s degree in music composition in 1959. He was a prolific musician, primarily playing the alto saxophone but also dabbling in flute, bass clarinet, oboe, bassoon, double bass, drum set, piano and more. His some 400 compositions and 200 arrangements reflect his Caribbean and African American roots, incorporating blues, jazz and calypso. He recorded his first album entitled Stone Blues in 1960, accompanied by local Boston musicians with whom he had been rehearsing for several years. Over the course of his career, McIntyre performed or recorded with many notable jazz musicians, including Jaki Byard, and was a member of the innovative group Beaver Harris 360° Music Experience.

1970s

Then in 1971, McIntyre switched roles from student to teacher when he founded the first African American Music program in the country at the SUNY College at Old Westbury; he taught there for 24 years.

Arni Cheatham

Arni Cheatham

Two years later in 1973, the avant-garde big band The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra was created in Boston, featuring Arni Cheatham as its lead alto saxophone player. Around the same time as Aardvark’s formation, Cheatham helped found the Jazz Coalition advocacy group, and he remained active through the early 1980s. The Jazz Coalition elevated Boston’s jazz profile and gave back to the community through music education programs that encouraged desegregation and brought music to hospitals, homeless shelters, prisons, old-age homes and other underserved communities.

 

TODAY

Currently, Cheatham is involved in the modern equivalent of the Jazz Coalition—JazzBoston—and another education program, Riffs & Raps.

Ray Santisi has also carried his career well into present day. He has recorded with Blue Note Records, Capitol Records, Prestige Records, Sonnet Records, Roulette Records and United Artists Records labels. In 2005, he released a live album from his regular performances at the Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge. He has also performed at Carnegie Hall. His band, The Real Thing, has played together for many years, and Santisi has even composed a waltz called Pendulums, inspired by Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz.” In 2008, Santisi was inducted into the IAJE Jazz Education Hall of Fame, and he still maintains his professorship at Berklee.

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