WDR Big Band Köln, Germany, 2016

Tour Dates: 3rd October - 16th October, 2016

The growing international reputation of the WDR Big Band is not only a reflection of its first GRAMMY success in 2007 for the CD Some Skunk Funk...

Tour Dates
  • 3rd October - 16th October, 2016

15 October, 2016, 12:00, JZ Festival Shanghai
19 October, 2016, 19:30, Zhongshan Culture & Art Center
21 October, 2016, 20:00, Guangzhou Xinghai Concert Hall

The growing international reputation of the WDR Big Band is not only a reflection of its first GRAMMY success in 2007 for the CD Some Skunk Funk, as well as its previous GRAMMY nominations. In 2008 too, two CDs were honoured at the GRAMMY Gala in Los Angeles in which the WDR Big Band Cologne was involved: in the category Best Jazz Vocal Album, a Grammy went to Patti Austin for Avant Gershwin (2006); in the area of Composition & Arrangement, Vince Mendoza received the prize for his arrangement of In A Silent Way for the WDR Big Band Production Brown Street (2005). In addition, the WDR Big Band Köln celebrated a further success with the award of the German Jazz Award for the CD production Roots & Grooves with the saxophonist and singer Maceo Parker.

Like all the WDR’s musical ensembles, the WDR Big Band Köln is a culture orchestra and cultural ambassador with a mission to introduce the public in North Rhine-Westphalia to jazz and jazz-related music through broadcasts and concerts. Constantly developing and performing new programmes in a wide range of styles, defines the orchestra profile of the WDR Big Band Köln as a premiere and first performance ensemble. At the same time, with its international members, the Big Band has a relation to the European tradition, especially to jazz made in Europe. This integrative factor is always part of the extremely complex programme design. Offer for young listeners ("Jazz at School", "WDR Youth Concert", etc.) also have a permanent place in the annual schedule.

In addition, there are many projects which create musical bridges between different musical cultures: in the most recent past, there have been successful collaborations with guest musicians from America & Africa, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia and Israel, among others.

Each member of the WDR Big Band Cologne is a soloist with an unmistakable timbre, which lends the entire orchestral sound a really great charisma. Together with its principal conductor as well as with internationally renowned guest conductors, composers, arrangers and guest soloists, in concert projects the WDR Big Band develops a wide-ranging programme profile. For the implementation of the various projects, national and international guest arrangers and guest musicians are regularly invited. The list is long and includes many prominent figures, including such names as Lalo Schifrin, Ray, Quincy Jones, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, McCoy Tyner, Maceo Parker and Michael and Randy Brecker. Unforgotten is also cooperation with the bass legend Ron Carter in the previous season.

Concerts in the WDR’s transmission area, but also engagements in Germany and abroad, increase the live presence and awareness of the orchestra. The programme of the WDR Big Band Köln covers the entire spectrum of jazz and jazz-related music from the traditional to the avant-garde. This also includes Latin Jazz, World Music, Fusion and Crossover - true to the motto: "Musical boundaries are musical challenges".

The more than 60-year orchestra history of the Big Band has its roots in the early years of the entertainment and dance orchestra formations of the WDR, whereby the jazz specific new orientation of the ensemble as an independent Big Band, began in the early 1980s with the chief conductor Jerry van Rooyen. In 2004, the American arranger Michael Abene took over the musical direction of the band. Since the 2014/15 season, the American Richard DeRosa has been chief conductor of the WDR Big Band.

The total of well over 70 CDs of the WDR Big Band Köln document its very high standard of playing and the broad stylistic programme range.

Composer & Conductor: Vince Mendoza

Vince Mendoza has been at the forefront of the Jazz and contemporary music scene as a composer, conductor and recording artist for the last 20 years. According to All about Jazz Mendoza “daringly expands the vernacular by including elements of abstract impressionism, romanticism and a highly unorthodox palette to position him as the clear and natural successor to the late Gil Evans.” He has written scores of compositions and arrangements for big band, extended compositions for chamber and symphonic settings while his jazz composing credits read like a “who's who” of the best modern instrumentalists and singers in the world today. Mendoza was recognized as 'Best Composer/Arranger' by Swing Journal's critics poll in Japan. His CD "Epiphany" features his compositions played by the London Symphony Orchestra “El Viento” and “Jazzpaña” further pushed the boundaries of Jazz and Flamenco Music. His new album, “Nights on Earth” features Mendoza compositions arranged for small and large ensembles, with guest appearances by Luciana Souza, Malian vocalist Tom Diakite, and musicians from Spain, Africa, and Brazil.

Mendoza's arranging has appeared on many critically acclaimed projects that include dozens of albums with song writing legends such as Björk, Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, Bobby McFerrin, Melody Gardot, Sting and Joni Mitchell.  He has 6 Grammy awards and 29 nominations.

Mendoza is the Conductor Laureate of the Netherlands Metropole Orkest of which he was Chief Conductor for 9 seasons. In addition, he appears frequently as a guest conductor with orchestras throughout Europe, the U.S., Japan, Scandinavia, and the U.K.

Mendoza has also written commissioned compositions and arrangements for the Turtle Island String Quartet, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, the Metropole Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, The Hollywood Bowl, West Deutsche Rundfunk, The Czech National Symphony and the BBC. His music was featured at the Berlin Jazz Festival . He has performed at the Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals.