The next performance of my big band will be:
Two shows starting at 8:00 & 9:30
(exact dates TBA)
After a very busy 2010 with the big band we'll take a little break to work on some other projects and, hopefully come up with some new music for the big band as well
For those of you that would like to perform my compositions with your own big band (high school, college and professional level), please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Here's a list of a few ensembles from across the US and overseas that I know have purchased and played my music:
The Royal Conservatoire - The Hague, The Netherlands (Oops! & Fuzzy Math)
University of North Texas Jazz Repertory Ensemble - Denton, TX (Big Fat Grin & Patience)
James Madison University - Harrisonburg, VA (Oops!)
USAF Falconaires - Colorado (Oops! & Big Fat Grin)
Norwalk High School - Norwalk, CT (Fuzzy Math)
2007 WCSU High School Summer Band Camp - Danbury, CT (Funky Coffee)
Dutchess County All-Star High School Band - Millbrook, NY (Tayloration III)
2008 WCSU High School Summer Band Camp - Danbury, CT (Big Fat Grin)
2009 MENC Connecticut Eastern Regional High School Band (Trance and Tayloration III)
2009 WCSU High School Summer Band Camp - Danbury, CT (Tayloration One)
2010 WCSU High School Summer Band Camp - Danbury, CT (Fuzzy Math)
Question: "Jamie, how did you ever go about becoming a big band leader?"
Answer: "Well, it seems like only yesterday that........." (cue fuzzy dream background!)
I was a graduate student at the Manhattan School of Music (as a jazz guitar major) in 1990 taking the required course of jazz arranging taught by Dave Lalama. Dave was very supportive of my initial work and encouraged me to continue writing. I left his class with a decent arrangement of an original tune of mine and a great feeling of accomplishment.
The following summer, while I was furiously practicing jazz piano to test out of the school's piano proficiency requirement, I decided to write another arrangement of a small group tune of mine entitled "Weep".
Fast - forward to January 1991: There I am performing "Weep," by now a 10+ minute arrangement of the initial 16 measure tune, with the MSM Jazz Orchestra at one of their annual concerts!
After finishing my Masters degree at MSM I continued to be around large ensemble writing by joining the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop in 1993. My first 2+ years in the workshop were rather unproductive. I think I was really intimidated by what everyone else in the workshop was doing and I didn't think that I could fit in, so I decided to quit.
My writing at this time was based around the Western Connecticut State University Jazz Guitar Ensemble; a student group that I was directing back then. My colleague at WestConn, (Dan Goble) heard my writing through the guitar ensemble and asked me if I would like to write something for his big band there and also teach arranging. Thus was the inspiration for what I consider to be my first real long-form composition "Trance."
On a whim, I brought this new piece into the BMI workshop thinking that everyone would hate it and laugh me out the door. To my surprise they not only liked it but programmed it in their annual concert of 1996! After the concert I got so much positive feedback from the musicians/workshop members (Deborah Weisz in particular) that I decided to "un-quit" and remain in the workshop.
Fast-Forward to September 1998. After accumulating a large enough body of music I organized my first reading session exclusively dedicated to my music. I was very nervous calling people to come and play but I had enough friends to help pull the thing together. I organized another reading six weeks later and another one six weeks after that. I was very fortunate in that a lot of the same people kept coming back to play my music and by January 1999 I was confident enough to put on a concert!
Our debut was Thursday, February 18, 1999 in a great space called El Taller LatinoAmericano. It was a great night for me and the band, the turnout was huge and people really seemed to like what I was doing . Up to this point I was so vulnerable and unsure of myself as an aspiring artist in New York City that any slight failure could have made me give up at any time; but after this concert I really felt that I had something to offer as a musician; I had to follow this road in earnest.
It's been over fourteen years and 40+ performances since that first concert and The Jamie Begian Big Band is still going strong! Our first CD entitled "TRANCE" is still pretty popular and our 2nd recording entitled "BIG FAT GRIN" has gotten great reviews!
I'm often not really sure how I came to become a big band leader; it was definitely NOT something I had in mind when I imagined a future career in music. Never the less - I'm glad I did! I hope to continue to work with this great group of musicians for years to come. Here's to creative music and the faith to live it!