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Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band | Down & Dirty

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Down & Dirty

by Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band

Badass L.A. big band playing 11 original tunes by Rich Willey with arrangements by Michael Abene, Gordon Goodwin, Wally Minko and Chris Walden. Special guest artist: Thomas Hooten.
Genre: Jazz: Big Band
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Boogie Beast
Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band
6:28 $0.99
2. Down & Dirty (feat. Thomas Hooten)
Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band
7:01 $1.49
3. Walter the Ferret
Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band
6:09 $0.99
4. Eyes All for You
Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band
6:11 $0.99
5. Dancing Hippo
Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band
6:16 $0.99
6. Ed Zachary Meets Gregory Peccary
Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band
5:45 $0.99
7. How 'Bout That?
Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band
6:49 $0.99
8. Old Folks
Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band
7:09 $0.99
9. Little Treasures
Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band
6:04 $1.49
10. Not so Fast!
Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band
7:22 $0.99
11. Funk Heap
Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band
6:18 $1.49
12. But for the Grace of God
Rich Willey & Boptism Big Band
6:03 $1.49
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
PERSONNEL — Rich Willey (trumpet, flugelhorn & bass trumpet) | Saxophones: Dan Higgins, Brian Scanlon, Bob Sheppard, Jeff Driskill/Sal Lozano, Jay Mason | Trumpets: Wayne Bergeron, Dan Fornero, Rob Schaer/Mike Rocha, Tony Bonsera | Trombones: Alex Iles, Andy Martin, Steve Holtman, Bill Reichenbach | Rhythm Section: Wally Minko (keyboards), Andrew Synowiec (guitars), Edwin Livingston (bass), Peter Erskine (drums), Joey De Leon (percussion). Very special guest: Thomas Hooten on piccolo trumpet (Down & Dirty). See bottom of album notes for full string orchestra personnel.

1. Boogie Beast (arr. by Gordon Goodwin, trumpet solo: Rich Willey) — 6:29
2. Down & Dirty (arr. by Wally Minko, bass trumpet solo: Rich Willey, piccolo trumpet solo: Thomas Hooten) — 7:01
3. Walter The Ferret (arr. by Gordon Goodwin, tenor sax solo: Bob Sheppard, synthesizer solo: Wally Minko), bass trumpet & flugelhorn solos: Rich Willey — 6:10
4. Eyes All For You (arr. by Chris Walden, bass trumpet solo: Rich Willey, tenor sax solo: Bob Sheppard) — 6:13
5. Dancing Hippo (arr. by Gordon Goodwin, bass trumpet solo: Rich Willey, baritone sax solo: Jay Mason) — 6:18
6. Ed Zachary Meets Gregory Peccary (arr. by Gordon Goodwin, keyboard solo: Wally Minko, trombone solo: Andy Martin, tenor sax solo: Sal Lozano) — 5:46
7. How ‘Bout That? (arr. by Wally Minko, tenor sax solo: Jeff Driskill, guitar solo: Andrew Sinowiec) — 6:50
8. Old Folks (written by Willard Robison & Dedette Lee Hill, BMI, arr. by Michael Abene, bass trumpet solo: Rich Willey) — 7:10
9. Little Treasures (arr. by Wally Minko, alto sax solo: Brian Scanlon, trumpet solo: Rich Willey) — 6:05
10. Not So Fast! (arr. by Gordon Goodwin, trombone solo: Alex Iles, trumpet solo: Rich Willey, synthesizer solo: Wally Minko) — 7:23
11. Funk Heap (arr. Wally Minko, alto sax solo: Dan Higgins, tenor sax solo: Bob Sheppard, guitar solo: Andrew Sinowiec) — 6:19
12. But For The Grace Of God (arr. by Michael Abene, flugelhorn solo: Rich Willey, piano solo: Wally Minko) — 6:03

This recording was produced by Dan Fornero
All tunes (except Old Folks) written by Rich Willey, © & P Boptism Music Company 2018, BMI
Big band recorded January 3–5, 2019 at Conway Studios, Hollywood, CA
Percussion recorded January 6 at LAFX Studio, North Hollywood, CA
Strings recorded January 6 at Capitol Records, Los Angeles, CA, “conducted” by Rich Willey
French horns recorded March 12, 2019 at Angel Song Studios, Glendale, CA
Gordon Goodwin conducted Dancing Hippo, Boogie Beast, Not So Fast! and Walter The Ferret
Wally Minko conducted How ‘Bout That?, Down & Dirty, Little Treasures and Funk Heap
Tommy Vicari and Michael Aarvold engineered the recording and mixing sessions
Mastering by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, Hollywood, CA
Spencer Guerra is the Pro Tools Wizard!
The Conway assistants were Ben “Zoom!” Fletcher and Eric “Zip!” Eylands
Photography by Angela Fornero
CD cover and DigiPak design by Vadim Reko
Pronunciation clarification: “Willey” rhymes with “Billy” (notice there are two “l’s” in Willey)

There's nothing quite like the power and agility of a great jazz big band. When the arrangements are solid, when the players are top-notch, when everything just “clicks,” that’s when you can understand why big bands have endured myriad vicissitudes in America’s music business during the 20th century and now into the 21st century.

A conversation I had back in early 2018 with legendary arranger Michael Abene got me thinking about all the players I know who might be able to help me put a big band recording together and get the best possible results. The first (and only) guy I actually called was my old buddy from my North Texas days, Dan Fornero. I asked him if he could help me do a big band recording. To say he ran with the idea is the very definition of the word understatement.

After looking into Wayne Bergeron’s availability, Dan immediately set out to assemble a monster band of L.A.’s finest players and voilá, a producer was born! As the project evolved he put me in contact with some of the best arrangers in Los Angeles, lined up the recording studios and engaged two magnificent L.A. recording engineers, Tommy Vicari and Mike Aarvold.

The arrangements were submitted, and the parts and scores were prepared. The studios were booked, and the musicians were contracted. All we had left to do was wait for the big day to arrive.

As sessions were scheduled to begin on January 3rd, Dan invited me to hear Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band perform on New Year’s Eve at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood. After months of emailing back and forth I finally met Gordon in person and had the chance to hear a few of the guys who were going to be on this recording. It was exhilarating to say the least. Gordon is an absolute master bandleader and I really love and appreciate his sense of humor.

Two days later Dan and I, along with virtuoso keyboardist/arranger Wally Minko and Angela Fornero (our videographer) met at Conway Recording Studios. There I met Tommy Vicari and Spencer Guerra along with Conway staff members Ben (Zoom!) and Eric (Zip!) who were setting up the studio for the next three days of recording.

On January 3rd, I walked into Conway “C” an hour before the start of the sessions. I was pretty embarrassed when I realized that I was practically the last person to arrive! At 10 a.m. sharp we got started.

We proceeded to record four of Gordon’s arrangements with Gordon conducting. We did a run-through of each tune while taking some notes, discussed a few things per tune with the band, and then each tune was recorded. The band had not played any of this material until that first day of recording. I soon knew without a doubt that this thing was by far the best musical project I had ever been a part of.

The second day started with Wally Minko on the podium. We recorded all four of Wally’s contributions—no small task by any means! Thomas Hooten, Principal Trumpet of the L.A. Philharmonic, joined us later that afternoon, adding piccolo trumpet on Wally’s epic arrangement of Down & Dirty.

Everybody in the control room marveled at Tom’s incredible first take, but Wally said, “I think you have a better one in you.” I remember thinking, “Good grief, Wally, how could it get any better than that?” Tom said, “Yeah, I think you’re right,” and I thought to myself, “How is that possible?” Every note Tom played sounded fantastic to me! Seriously, I doubt anybody would have ever complained if we had used that first take.

On day three, we recorded the two gorgeous Michael Abene masterpieces, Old Folks and But For The Grace Of God. Dan had suggested I play his flugelhorn on a couple of tunes during the session, since I had only brought my trumpet and bass trumpet. I didn’t think much of the idea of me playing his flugelhorn and his mouthpiece (actually I thought the idea was looney), but he insisted, and I’m here to tell you that it was absolutely the right call—especially having me play flugelhorn on But For The Grace of God.

(I laid down my part on But For The Grace Of God after the band had left and Dan was coaching me to help summon just the right emotion for the tune. Suddenly a wave of grieving for my recently deceased parents combined with a flood of gratitude for being alive and in the middle of this amazing musical experience left me there alone in the main studio sobbing uncontrollably for a good ten minutes while the control room stayed silent. I later learned that there were no dry eyes; everyone there was so understanding and gentle during that emotional moment.)

We then moved on to Chris Walden’s ingenious arrangement of Eyes All For You, ending the third day of sessions with Gordon’s chart on Ed Zachary Meets Gregory Peccary.

I have only fantastic things to say about all the players on this recording. The rhythm section, the massive V12 engine under the hood, was pure dynamite! Wally, Andrew, Edwin, Peter and Joey are as rock solid, tasteful and hip a team as you could ever ask for in a rhythm section.

The saxes led by Dan Higgins with Brian, Bob, Jeff, Sal and Jay knocked it out of the park on every tune. Just phenomenal!

The trumpet section with Wayne Bergeron on lead (most of the time), Dan, Rob, Mike and Tony was superb. Astonishing! (Holy Smokes!)

Dan kept telling me that he had lined up “God’s Trombone Section.” I had thought that was an exaggeration but now, after the fact, I completely agree with him. Alex, Andy, Steve and Bill together are a formidable power that really holds the entire ensemble together.

Thoughout the recording session Angela was shooting video and stills to capture as much history as possible. She was so professional and made herself so “invisible” that not once did I get self-conscious about being filmed.

An especially memorable thing happened when legendary arranger Sammy Nestico came to the second day of recording. He and Tommy Vicari go way back, and Tommy’s wife brought Sammy to observe Tommy recording a big band. It was an honor and a thrill to meet him and hard to believe that the great Sammy Nestico attended my big band recording session!

Another cool highlight for me during my visit to Los Angeles was getting to “conduct” the strings session at Capitol Records, in Studio “A”—the studio where Frank Sinatra and Nat “King” Cole made all of those great records—records that sound as good today as the first time I heard them. Fortunately for me, the string players seemed to have a nice sense of humor, which was important since my conducting is pretty much a joke.

Mike Aarvold expertly engineered that huge undertaking of a session, making it look easy.

The percussion tracks were then laid down at LAFX Studio by Joey De Leon. That man’s musicianship and sense of humor are both brilliant and infectious, and we sure had a ball recording with him. With the strings and percussion completed, we finished the last day of recording.

The next four days Tommy, Mike, Spencer, Wally, Dan and I dove into mixing at LAFX Studio in North Hollywood. Tommy had massive studio monitors that made it sound like the band was right there in the control room, and fabulous headphones that sounded better than any headphones I’ve ever used. Tommy and Mike are true artists who hear everything. I’m pretty sure they can both hear grass growing—nothing gets past them. Spencer is a veritable Pro Tools wizard and I was dazzled at his knowledge and his lightning fast chops.

During the back-to-back (to-back) mixing of some of Wally’s arrangements Tommy suddenly blurted, “Every tune is Ben F***ing Hur!” We all burst out laughing, but there is much truth in that statement. Wally is such a genius!!!

Dan Fornero’s wife, Melinda, was there during some of the mix sessions and suddenly broke into interpretive dance during a playback of Funk Heap. We really had a great time during the mixing of that track.

With Mike Aarvold’s tireless overtime help, the 77 minutes of music was finally mixed.

In 2001 I recorded a CD with saxophonist, pianist and vocalist Kenny Shanker. Kenny is a true friend, my former roommate and bandmate at Manhattan School of Music. I sent him a couple of the big band tunes we had just finished recording (two of the same tunes he and I had done years ago in a small group setting) and he was blown away. I later learned he had started a record company. Deciding to go with Wise Cat Records just sorta happened and I’m really thrilled to be working with Kenny once again.

Dan Fornero and the award-winning team of Tommy Vicari and Bernie Grundman mastered this session at Bernie Grundman Mastering on March 29th.

This entire project is dedicated to the loving memory of my parents Leonard and Carolyn Willey, my Uncle Richard M. Gilchrist, and to my older brother John Willey. My parents made this recording possible in so many ways and I am forever grateful to them.

But For The Grace Of God is an expression of gratitude to the God of my understanding for giving me so many second chances in life, chances I certainly did nothing to deserve.

Speaking of gratitude, there are several more people who need to be recognized and thanked: • My beautiful, loving, understanding, smart, supportive and hilarious wife Janet who has given me the gift of believing in me and my music and helps me with everything I do. I couldn’t have done any of this without her. • Mike Abene, who agreed to arrange some of my tunes for a very reasonable fee and pretty much got the ball rolling for this whole big band project. • Chris Battistone, my consultant and long-time friend and fellow trumpeter who took Mike’s handwritten scores and put them into Finale. • Don Owen, my trumpet teacher at University of South Florida (who was, by the way, also Tom Hooten’s teacher at USF) for his great suggestions and support. • Dan Fornero who believed in me and went to great lengths to make sure this recording was the best possible product with the best possible team. • JoAnn Kane Music Service for their attention to detail. • My sisters Lou and Anne for their huge moral support. • Donald S. Reinhardt for making it possible for me to continue playing a brass instrument. • Bill and Dr. Bob for paving the way for me to be happy, joyous and free. • Richard Tener for keeping me honest and accountable. • Fred and Yvonne Williams for being the greatest friends a guy like me could ever have. • Wally Minko for giving us the Ben Hur factor. • The crew at Conway Studios who made our time there a near vacation-resort kind of pleasurable experience. • Vadim Reko from Ukraine for designing this CD cover. • The ever-supportive Pete and Amanda Wrublewski. • Savant Productions for their tireless efforts and professionalism. • HUGE special thanks to the incredible,world-class musicians in this band. • Thanks to everybody else I forgot to mention: you know who you are!

I hope you’ve enjoyed perusing this booklet. It’s for people like you, who still appreciate information about the recording process and the musicians.

All of these big band jazz ensemble charts are available at our Boptism website. You may get hold of me there at the Contact Page if you have any other questions or comments.

Thank you!

— Rich, March 21, 2019


Songa Lee (concert master)
Josefina Vergara
Benjamin Jacobson
Natalie Leggett
Marisa Kuney
Jennifer Choi Fischer
Mark Robertson
Maya Magub
Joel Pargman
Sara Parkins
Eun Mee Ahn
Nina Evtuhov
Daphne Chen
Amy Hershberger
Tamara Hatwan
Michele Richards
Carrie Kennedy
Armen Anassian
Ji Young An
Lorand Lokuszta
Neel Hammond
Lucia Micarelli

Andrew Duckles
Eric Rynearson
Alma Fernandez
Karen Elaine
Carolyn Riley
Victor de Almeida

Jacob Braun
Vanessa Freebairn-Smith
Cecilia Tsan
Dennis Karmazyn

David Stone
Trey Henry

Dylan Hart
Danielle Ondarza



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