The Reno Jazz Orchestra’s recent concerts at the Good Luck Macbeth theater May 31 and June 1 featured the compositions and arrangements of Vince Mendoza. I suspect most of you have not heard his name, but I am certain you have heard his music. With 22 recordings as arranger-conductor for a wide range of artists from Joni Mitchell to Joe Zawinul, 15 recordings of his original compositions, six Grammy awards and 25 Grammy nominations, his work is widely heard.
So why don’t you recognize his name? He follows in the legendary footsteps of other composer-arranger-conductors such as Quincy Jones, Oliver Nelson, Billy May and Claus Ogerman. Most of you have heard of Quincy Jones, but what about the others? All of these gentlemen were well-versed in both jazz and popular music worlds and expanded the musical palette of a jazz orchestra. This leads me to the topic of today’s column: What does the future jazz orchestra in the new millennium sound like?