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Photo of the GPJB group
The Great Pacific Jazz Band
Standing left to right
Burr Middleton - Drums | Bob Havens - Trombone | Jack Wadsworth - Bass Sax 
  Bob Ringwald - Leader, Banjo | Don Nelson - Soprano Sax
Kneeling left to right
Zeke Zarchy - Trumpet | Jim Turner - Piano

 

GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND
(Los Angeles, 1979-1995:)

From its formation in 1979 to its disbanding in 1995, the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND was Southern California's most exciting traditional jazz band. Led by banjoist/pianist BOB RINGWALD, the GPJB boasted some of the world's finest musicians who blended their talents to create a polished, powerful and expressive jazz sound. Trumpet man ZEKE ZARCHY was one of the most recorded jazz artists of all time, while trombonist BOB HAVENS is widely regarded as the greatest living classic jazz performer on that instrument.

The group's repertoire was drawn from all styles of traditional jazz. The band's library of arrangements included the music of LOUIS ARMSTRONG, BIX BEIDERBECKE, BOB CROSBY's BOBCATS, RED NICHOLS and DUKE ELLINGTON, among many others. The band also played brand new original compositions by reed-man DON NELSON.

The GPJB was featured at the SACRAMENTO JAZZ JUBILEE for 14 consecutive years, and at the LOS ANGELES CLASSIC JAZZ FESTIVAL almost every year since the festival's inception in 1984. The band headlined at many other major jazz festivals including those in Reno NV, Friday Harbor and Ocean Shores WA, Fresno, Palm Springs, Pismo Beach, Costa Mesa, Three Rivers and San Diego CA.

In addition, the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND enjoyed long and successful engagements at Los Angeles' premiere Dixieland jazz night-spots, including Stevie G's in Studio City, Tracton's Restaurant in Encino, 2 years at the Money Tree in Toluca Lake, 2 years at the Beef n' Barrel Company Restaurant in Los Angeles, 2 years at My Brothers' Place in Northridge and their final engagement at LGT Vegas in Mission Hills, CA.

In 1988 the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND recorded "The Music Of Louis Armstrong." It was one of the very first recordings by a contemporary classic jazz band to be issued on compact disc as well as on conventional stereo LP records and cassettes. The CD has recently been re-released on the Mountain Gold Recordings Label, MGR-004. LPs and cassettes are also available. The album can be purchased here

 

 

Personnel

  • BOB RINGWALD banjo/piano/vocal. 

In 1979, shortly after Ringwald's relocation to the Los Angeles area, he was invited by trumpeter PETE DAILY to attend the twice-weekly jam sessions at Disney Studios in Burbank. There he became acquainted with some of the areas finest traditional jazz musicians. He formed the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND which quickly became one of the West Coast's leading Classic Jazz bands. RINGWALD led the GPJB until he disbanded it in 1995 to move back to the Sacramento area. 

 

  • ZEKE (Rubin) ZARCHY trumpet. (Born June 15, 1915 in New York City.) 

One of the greatest lead trumpet players ever to emerge in the swing era, Zeke led the front line of the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND with authority and taste. At one time or another, Zeke's brilliant trumpet sound has sparked almost every major Swing orchestra since BENNY GOODMAN. 

Picture of Louis and Zeke
Louis Armstrong and Zeke

He joined the JOE HAYMES ORCHESTRA in 1934, then went with GOODMAN in '36 and ARTIE SHAW in '37. From 1937 to 1942, he worked and recorded with the big bands of RED NORVO, BOB CROSBY, MILDRED BAILEY, FRANK SINATRA, HELEN WARD, JUDY GARLAND, TOMMY DORSEY and ELLA FITZGERALD. 

Zeke's trumpet can be heard on such classic original recordings as BENNY GOODMAN'S "BUGLE CALL RAG," GLENN MILLER'S "MOONLIGHT COCKTAILS," and BOB CROSBY'S much-imitated "SOUTH RAMPART STREET PARADE," to name a few. 

When WW-II broke out he was the first man chosen by GLENN MILLER for what was to become his famous ARMY AIR FORCE BAND -- (Army designation 418th Army Band) -- in which he played lead trumpet and was Master (First) Sergeant from 1942 to 1945. 

After the war Zeke was brought to Los Angeles by FRANK SINATRA. He settled there and became a much sought after studio musician, backing up hundreds of vocalists from LOUIS ARMSTRONG to TONY BENNETT to DINAH SHORE to THE MILLS BROTHERS. He played for the greatest Hollywood soundtracks including "WEST SIDE STORY", "DR. ZHIVAGO" and the 1953 Universal feature film "THE GLENN MILLER STORY". He has been a member of the NBC Staff Orchestra in both Los Angeles and New York, including 9 consecutive years in Los Angeles. 

His travels have included many tours to Europe, South America, and Australia along with thirty-two trips to Japan. Zeke passed away on April 12, 2009 at the age of 93 years & 10 months. To see Zeke talking about his fabulous career, go to  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQKbffBqJv8
 

 

  • BOB HAVENS trombone. 

BOB HAVENS is unanimously acclaimed as one of the world's greatest Dixieland jazz trombonists - The leading exponent of the JACK TEAGARDEN style. His powerful delivery and smooth phrasing have made him much in demand at jazz festivals and concerts throughout the world. 

Bob was born to a musical family in 1930 in Quincy, Illinois. He began studying violin and trombone at age 7 and played both instruments throughout his school years. He landed his first professional job with a local dance band at age 12. By the age of 16, his talent as a trombonist was recognized with a scholarship from the Interlochen Music Camp in Michigan and Bob held the first trombone chair in the school's 250 piece concert band. He later held the first trombone chair in the Quincy Symphony while also playing in many popular dance groups in Illinois. 

He left Quincy in 1955 to tour with the RALPH FLANAGAN ORCHESTRA. In 1956, he joined GEORGE GIRARD's Dixieland Band at the FAMOUS DOOR in New Orleans. There, he met his idol, JACK TEAGARDEN. 

In 1957, Bob joined AL HIRT at Dan's Pier 600 on Bourbon Street when HIRT formed his very first band. The front line consisted of HIRT, HAVENS and PETE FOUNTAIN. This band recorded four memorable albums, all but one are still in print. 

Bob stayed with this group until 1960 when he was persuaded to move to the West Coast and join the LAWRENCE WELK ORCHESTRA as a featured soloist on their weekly TV series. His brilliant tenure with this show lasted 22 years.

Bob has recorded several albums as leader and scores as a sideman with the world's top jazz groups. He continues to record and appear at jazz festivals and concerts throughout the world. 

link http://www.riverwalk.org/profiles/havens.htm 

 

  • DON NELSON soprano sax/vocal. 

Don was a professional musician while still in high-school and played tenor sax in brother OZZIE NELSON's band at age 16. He began to specialize in classic jazz at age 22, frequently sitting in with PETE DAILY's CHICAGOANS during their residency at Los Angeles' Hangover Club. Later Don played in the U.S. Navy Band and in numerous radio orchestras. 

Don has recorded in various contexts including a fine jazz vocal album entitled "THE WIND" (Mode Records LP-116) on which he is backed up by JIMMY ROWLES on piano and LEROY VINNEGAR on bass. His 1986 solo album is entitled "SITTIN' IN" (Too Cool TC-1085) and features pianist JOHNNY VARRO.

Many of Don's compositions have been recorded by top jazz and pop artists and some were among the most requested numbers in the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND's repertoire. 

For many years Don maintained a career as a screenwriter and film producer. He wrote scripts for the "Ozzie And Harriet Show" on radio and television for 16 years. He co-wrote several TV series for Fox Studios ("The Ghost And Mrs. Muir," "Nannie And The Professor"), co-wrote and produced 4 feature films for Disney Studios including "Gus" and "Herbie And The Love Bug," as well as several television and feature films for Universal Studios. 

The musical Nelson family boasts some other famous names besides Don, like brother OZZIE and nephew RICK.

Donald Richard Nelson
Born Jan 20, 1927 in Hackensack NJ died September 10, 2013 in Studio City, CA at the age of 86.

 

  • JIM TURNER piano/arranger. 

JIM TURNER joined the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND in 1982 as pianist and arranger. 

He first became interested in traditional jazz and stride piano while earning a degree in music composition from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He later studied jazz piano and arranging with jazz greats JOHNNY GUARNIERI and DICK CARY. 

Turner has been featured at jazz festivals throughout the United States including four appearances at the SCOTT JOPLIN RAGTIME FESTIVAL in Sedalia, Missouri. For 25 years, he was a featured soloist at the OLD TOWN MUSIC HALL RAGTIME FESTIVALS in Los Angeles.

Jim has recorded three solo albums, a tribute to JAMES P. JOHNSON entitled "OLD FASHIONED LOVE" (Euphonic Sounds ESR-1222), "POET AND PEASANT" (Sacramento Jazz Records SJS-32) and his latest "THE DAZZLER" (Klavier Records 77016). On the latter CD, he is joined by jazz pianist DICK HYMAN in a duet performance. 

Turner is has been a free-lance recording producer for numerous jazz and classical record labels. His producing credits include OSCAR PETERSON, TEDDY WILSON, STEVE ALLEN, FLOYD CRAMER and DICK CARY's TUESDAY NIGHT FRIENDS. Link http://home.pacbell.net/jnt2/dickcary/ 

In 2003, Jim joined the Jim Cullum Jazz band in San Antonio, Texas. He may be heard frequently on their weekly radio show, "Riverwalk, Live From The Landing." 
 

link: www.riverwalkjazz.org

 

  • JACK WADSWORTH bass saxophone/arranger. 

JACK WADSWORTH is now retired from Disney Studios where for many years he was the head of the music editing department. While there, he had long been a part of the noon jam session tradition instituted by THE FIREHOUSE FIVE + TWO. He is equally proficient on banjo, guitar, piano, string bass and all of the saxes. He also wrote many of the arrangements for the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND. 

Through the years Jack worked with many traditional jazz bands in the Southern California area, including a stint with PETE DAILY's CHICAGOANS. His astounding soloing technique on the bass sax made him an audience favorite, especially on his show-stoppers, "SAXOPHOBIA" and "THE WILD CAT BLUES". 

Jack has a seemingly endless list of credits as a music editor and music supervisor for television and film productions beginning with the original ZORRO TV shows from 1957 to 1959, and including 14 years with the TV series, "THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY". 

Jack now divides his time between Hawaii, Washington state and Los Angeles. He is currently playing with local groups in eastern Washington state and plays Dixieland jazz festivals from Montana to California.

 

  • RAY TEMPLIN drums/vocal. 

RAY TEMPLIN hails from Chicago where he played in many jazz, comedy and show bands including The RIVERBOAT RAMBLERS of Milwaukee which also featured BOB SCHULZ on trumpet. In 1979 he moved to Los Angeles and became a favorite at local jazz clubs playing both piano and drums. He joined the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND, shortly after its formation, in 1980.

Ray is featured on both drums and piano on many recordings including "PIANO MAN" (Subrosa 1003), "Crazy 'Bout Fats" (Subrosa 1004) and the latest, an album of original tunes (by and with) the late STEVE ALLEN. 

He is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and may be seen often in reruns of NBC's long-running TV series "MATLOCK" with ANDY GRIFFITH. His voice can also be heard on many "MARRIED...WITH CHILDREN" episodes. 

Before retiring, Ray appeared regularly for 26 years at Disneyland, playing piano in New Orleans Square and alternating between piano and drums with the park's various show bands. Ray now lives in Tucson AZ and appears often with Bob Schulz's Frisco Jazz Band of San Francisco and is a regular member of The Original Wildcat Jass Band of Tucson.

Link www.raytemplin.com

 

  • MOLLY RINGWALD vocalist.

From the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND's formation in 1979 to its disbanding in 1995, MOLLY RINGWALD was its "Girl Singer." 

Molly began singing Jazz with the FULTON STREET JAZZ BAND in Sacramento, California at the age of 3 1/2. She recorded her first LP record "I WANNA BE LOVED BY YOU, MOLLY SINGS" at the age of six. 

When the Ringwald family moved to Los Angeles and her dad formed the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND, Molly became the girl vocalist. While her busy movie and television career did not always permit her to make all of the band's performances, she appeared with them whenever possible. 

Molly was a featured guest star at the SACRAMENTO JAZZ JUBILEE in 1973, 1974, 1979, 1980 and 1993. She is currently starring in the hit series, "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" on the ABC Family TV Network. She can also be heard on the Fulton Street Jazz Band's latest CD, "Bob Ringwald's Fulton Street Jazz Band with special guest Molly Ringwald," Mountain Gold Recordings MGR-004.

link http://sacjazz.com

 

  • DICK CARY piano/alto (peck) horn. (1916-1994) 

RICHARD DURANT CARY was a child prodigy, performing on violin as a soloist with the Hartford Symphony at the age of 11. He earned a bachelor's degree in music from Wesleyan University in 1938 and immediately began to work as a full-time musician around New York and Connecticut.

In 1941, at age 25, Cary landed full-time work at Nick's in Greenwich Village, and became a fixture on the New York jazz scene. He performed with and recorded scores of albums with the genre's top artists of the 40's and 50's including EDDIE CONDON, BOBBY HACKETT, WILD BILL DAVIDSON, BILLY BUTTERFIELD, BUD FREEMAN, JIMMY MCPARTLAND and MUGSY SPANIER.

In 1943, he enjoyed an assignment as a staff arranger for BENNY GOODMAN and played with GLEN GRAY's CASA LOMA JAZZ BAND. 

Cary served 3 years in the Army as a musician from 1944 to 1946. He was stationed at Camp Shanks near Nyack, New York. This was not far from New York City--about an hour hitch-hiking -- so Cary continued to perform in jazz clubs during his tour of service. 

During his Army stint, Cary took up the alto horn, or so-called "peckhorn," a rare instrument, especially in jazz. This instrument was to become a Cary trademark.

In 1947, he gained worldwide recognition when he was selected by LOUIS ARMSTRONG as the first pianist in LOUIS ARMSTRONG's ALL STARS. This jazz band has come to be recognized as one of the greatest of all time. It included JACK TEAGARDEN, BARNEY BIGARD, ARVELL SHAW, CID CATLETT and vocalist VELMA MIDDLETON. Many live concert recordings of this band are currently available on CD. 

In 1959, Cary moved to California. Although he continued to work frequently with CONDON, BOB CROSBY and PEE WEE RUSSELL, he found more time to devote to his main avocation writing and arranging. 

Dick considered himself "retired" after the age of 65. However, he continued to accept engagements as a guest star at many U.S. and foreign jazz festivals. In 1987 he was honored by the SACRAMENTO JAZZ JUBILEE as "EMPEROR OF JAZZ." He joined the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND in 1991 replacing pianist JIM TURNER, playing both piano and peckhorn with the band until his passing in 1994. 

link http://home.pacbell.net/jnt2/dickcary/ 

 

  • ROY BREWER trombone. 

ROY BREWER was the original trombonist for the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND in 1979 when BOB RINGWALD formed the band. As with JACK WADSWORTH, DON NELSON and ZEKE ZARCHY, RINGWALD met him at the regular noon jam sessions at Disney Studios in Burbank. These jam sessions were a tradition from the days when the FIREHOUSE 5 PLUS 2 used to rehearse on the lot. In 1954 while working as a film editor and watching these rehearsals, Roy was inspired to rejuvenate his grammar school trombone playing. 

Before joining the GPJB, Roy worked with JOE DARENSBOURG'S DIXIE FLYERS, VINCE SAUNDERS' SOUTH FRISCO JAZZ BAND and others in the Los Angeles area, while leading his own band, the TAILGATE RAMBLERS. 

Roy left the GPJB on June 16th of 1985, in order to devote more time to his Bible activities as a Jehovah's Witness. He was replaced by trombonist BOB HAVENS. 

 

  • BURR MIDDLETON drums/vocal. 

BURR MIDDLETON has maintained two successful careers as musician and actor. Before joining the GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND in 1986, Burr worked with many bands throughout the Southern California area including stints with PETE DAILY, JACK TEAGARDEN, MATTY MATLOCK AND ART PEPPER. 

As an actor, Burr has followed in the footsteps of his famous grandfather actor Charles Middleton, (Ming the Merciless in the Flash Gordon serials). 

Burr's radio, movie, and stage credits are too numerous to list in their entirety here. They include: "Matlock", "Hunter", "The Twilight Zone", "Hill Street Blues", "Happy Days", and "Hawaii Five-O". 

Burr was featured as the voices of Captain Marvel and Billy Batson in the television series, "Shazam". He also narrated Oliver Stone's prestigious film, "Nixon". 

His voice has been heard on commercials for Toyota, Mattel Toys, Saver Filters, Beneficial Finance, Union Chemicals, Pizza Inn's, The Carnation Company, and Baskin-Robbins, to name a few. 

In a series of hilarious sketch comedy segments, Burr portrayed prosecutor Kenneth Starr during multiple appearances on Jay Leno's, "Tonight Show". 

Burr continues to be active in the Los Angeles Jazz scene, leading his own modern vocal group, THE TRU-TONES. 

GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND, Time Line 

Roy Brewer (trombone) 1979-1985. 
Dick Cary (piano/alto horn) 1991-1994.
Bob Havens (trombone) 1985-1995.
Burr Middleton (drums/vocals) 1986-1992.
Don Nelson (soprano sax/vocals) 1979-1995
Ray Templin (drums/vocals) 1980-1986
Jim Turner (piano/arranger) 1982-1991
Bob Ringwald (leader/banjo/piano/vocals) 1979-1995
Molly Ringwald (vocals) 1979-1995
Jack Wadsworth (bass sax/arranger) 1979-1995.
Zeke Zarchy (trumpet) 1979-1995.

The CRITICS speak about THE GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND 

"The GPJB has attained a quality of unison that can only be achieved by diligent rehearsals, a continuity of performances, and a deep dedication to their music. Today, they rank as one of the world's leading purveyors of traditional jazz." 

-Floyd Levin, L.A. JAZZ SCENE 

 

"If, somehow, Bach could be resurrected, he would probably sit in (if he could find a harpsichord available) with The Great Pacific Jazz Band. They could probably teach Johann a thing or two about swing. But it is doubtful whether J.S. could teach the GPJB anything about counterpoint." 

-Harvey Siders, JAZZ FORUM (published in Poland) 

 

"The basic joy in this musical form can still be conveyed when it is performed with the authenticity brought to it by such veterans as Zeke Zarchy."

-Leonard Feather, LOS ANGELES TIMES

 

"Basic, old fashioned jazz... that's what they play." 

-Jack Hawn, LOS ANGELES TIMES

 

"This recording [GREAT PACIFIC JAZZ BAND: THE MUSIC OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG] is so excellent on so many levels that it is hard for me to know where to begin! The musicianship, the performance, the sound, the faithfulness to the original inspiration, the freshness of the improvisation, the repertoire, the spirit, the love and respect for the music, even the liner notes, all add up to a really worthwhile and valuable album." 

-Bill Spilka, THE BRASS PLAYER