The Stone-Bratt Big Band

The Stone-Bratt Big Band

BandJazz

The Stone/Bratt Big Band features original, unpublished jazz compositions crafted by the group's members. On a given evening, a listener will hear up-tempo modal excursions; bluesy straight-ahead swingers; or daring free improvisations.

Biography

Founded in April of 2006, the Stone/Bratt Big Band is the inspiration of two long-time friends and musical associates: Doug Bratt and his near-namesake, Doug Stone. Stone and Bratt first met in 1999 as members of the acclaimed Northern Illinois University Jazz Ensemble. In the fall of 2001, their collegial, collegiate association resulted in the formation of a group to host the weekly jam session at DeKalb's House Café. Not coincidentally, that same year, Stone and Bratt were also enrolled in NIU's jazz arranging course, taught then by composer, Joey Sellers. Inspired by Joey's tutelage, early in the run at the House Café, Stone proposed that the group expand to a 9-piece format, initially known as the Big House-Big House Band. This larger unit provided a 4-horn fronted group for which members of the jazz arranging course began to write. The excitement generated by this group of young musicians and writers, performing their own original works each week, was palpable. With each new performance, the audience grew and by the end of the year, the group performed and recorded a full night of original works for a packed room. In the fall of 2002, Bratt graduated from NIU and moved to the Chicago area to freelance and teach. The group continued on, led by Doug Stone and under the new moniker: The Jazz Arranging Syndicate. The Syndicate, continued to draw large crowds and new writers for the duration of the 2002-03 school year.

Fast forward to 2006 and a flash of inspiration! Noticing a dearth of creative playing opportunities in the Chicago area, and seeking to rekindle the camaraderie of the House Café group, Doug Bratt contacted Doug Stone in the spring of 2006 with the idea of starting a big band consisting of young, area music professionals. Stone had recently returned from touring with the late, great Maynard Ferguson's Big-Bop Nouveau band and although both Stone and Bratt had been working steadily with many outstanding Chicago area musicians, neither had overlapped much in their respective performing spheres. Delighting in the opportunity to play, hang out and reconnect with old friends, Stone quickly jumped on the idea. Together, Bratt and Stone called upon many old friends, still in the Chicago area, who had been part of the NIU jazz scene. Those spots in the band that could not be filled with old friends, were filled with new friends. In fact, the overriding concern in asking musicians to join in this labor of love, was that they have a positive, easygoing vibe and a passion for playing adventurous music of all kinds.

Capitalizing on ready access to a cozy, well-appointed rehearsal space at Moraine Valley Community College where Bratt teaches music, rehearsals began in April of 2006. The initial meetings of the Stone/Bratt Big Band, were exhilarating, inspired and joyous! Old friends and new, joining together to play, laugh and create – does it get any better than that?!? Oh yeah, there was food and drink, too . . .

By the summer of 2006, the band had secured two public performance opportunities: a late June debut at Lilly's on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago and a July appearance opening for the legendary Brass Track's Big Band at Hackney's Restaurant in Palos Park, Illinois. With each performance, the group received rave reviews and complements from audience members. Building on the momentum of their initial appearance, in August of 2006, the Stone/Bratt Big Band returned to Lilly's for seven more monthly performances ending in February of 2007. In February of 2007, the band moved their monthly performances further up Lincoln Avenue to the Bad Dog Tavern. After a nearly year long run, the Monday night Bad Dog jazz series came to a close in February of 2008.

Currently, the Stone/Bratt Big Band book contains over three hours of original works and arrangements for big band. The band is available for concert series, jazz festivals and clinics/workshops for high schools, colleges and universities throughout the year. For bookings, please contact either Doug Bratt or Doug Stone for more information. Also, because this project is a labor of love, finding creative ways to fund recordings and commission new works is a priority. If you're a part of a foundation, corporation or other entity whose mission it is to support creative endeavors in the arts, we'd love to hear from you!

Discography

Full Length Debut Release (untitled, coming in May 2008)

Set List

The Stone/Bratt Big Band typically performs two to three 45 minute sets of original compositions and arrangements for big band. Songs include originals such as Doug Stone's "Cellophane," "Chaplin's Hat," or "Sure Thing" and arrangements such as "Who Can I Turn To," "Punjab," “Black Nile,” and "You Don't Know What Love Is."