Jon Armstrong Jazz Orchestra // Farewell

Jon Armstrong Jazz Orchestra - Farewell.jpg
Jon Armstrong Jazz Orchestra - Farewell.jpg

Jon Armstrong Jazz Orchestra // Farewell


Farewell by the Jon Armstrong Jazz Orchestra
(ORENDA 0008)

Now Available!

Released as a Compact Disc in a 6-panel digipak covered in original artwork by Eron Rauch, with a 10-page booklet of liner notes by composer/bandleader Jon Armstrong, this album is a beautiful collector's item, as well as an incredible listening experience.

If you would prefer to order the digital download version, please visit our Bandcamp Store, or purchase from the Bandcamp player below.

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Jon Armstrong: Composer, Conductor, Tenor Saxophone Soloist

Woodwinds: Gavin Templeton, Phil O’Connor, Brian Walsh, Andrew Conrad, Erin Armstrong
Trumpets: Michael Steever, Daniel Rosenboom, Barbara Laronga, Josh Aguiar, Clinton Patterson
Low Brass: George McMullen, Ryan Dragon, Joey Sellers, Paul Rivera, Stefan Kac
Rhythm: Gary Fukashima, Randy Gloss, Chris Payne, David Tranchina, Alexander Noice, Trevor Anderies, Andrew Lessman


I give profound thanks to my family. You give me limitless support, and I love you so much.  Deepest gratitude to my mother Elaine, my father Richard, my sister Joanna, and my wife Erin.  

All of the music on this album was inspired by something Erin once said to me.  In order to sustain any strong intimate relationship, one has to be willing to constantly say goodbye to expectations.  Each day, you have to kill the idea you have of the person you loved yesterday, and accept the one that is standing in front of you today.  This action is also essential for a composer.  We have to maintain a constant state of growth and exploration, willing to leave old musical concepts behind, and take risks when we hear something that surprises us.  Not only should composers be pushing their boundaries, but the musicians involved should be motivated to perform with reckless abandonment.  The musicians in the Jon Armstrong Jazz Orchestra are immensely talented, and their passion immediately brought my compositions to life.  

Ardnave (Mike Stever, trumpet; Randy Gloss & Chris Payne, percussion; Phil O’Connor, clarinet)  is built around a strong Scottish sounding melody that just popped into my head shortly after my honeymoon in Scotland.  As I wrote it down, I was transported back to the northern coast of Islay where Erin and I spent an afternoon walking among sheep to an empty beach.

Fool of Me (Jon Armstrong, Tenor Saxophone) was composed as I contemplated the balance between self preservation and vulnerability in relationships.  

Dream Has No Friend (George McMullen, trombone; Brian Walsh, bass clarinet) comes from a piece of poetry that drifts between consciousness and unconsciousness.

Quardboard Flavored Fiber (Stefan Kac, tuba;  Gavin Templeton, alto saxophone; Ryan Dragon, trombone) is a composition I originally wrote for Slumgum, a collective jazz quartet that has been a central part of my musical life for 8 years.  The piece is inspired by and dedicated to the millions of microorganisms living in the human digestive system, especially the large intestine and colon.  

Farewell (Joon Lee, vocals; Joey Sellers, trombone; Clinton Patterson, trumpet; Gary Fukushima, piano; Erin Armstrong, Clarinet) is the title track, written in the spirit of saying goodbye to old versions of yourself.  The song is meant to be a type of dirge, a funeral for all that you once held sacred as you look forward with hope and anxiety for what comes next.

I am especially indebted to Mike Barone, Bennie Maupin, Vinny Golia, and Vincent Gallo. Each of these leaders pushes his band members into uncomfortable terrain so the players must innovate to survive.   Playing in their bands has taught me innumerable lessons on how to create original music with other people.  They all have such strong artistic visions, and I strive to one day match their passion and energy.  

I dedicate my inaugural big band album to these four sages, and to all the other teachers I have had the honor of working with:  Greg McKelvey, Harry Tolliver Jr., Thara Memory, Marc Seales, Vern Sielert, Michael Brockman, LeNard Jones, Paul Novros, David Roitstein, Larry Koonse, Darek Oles, Marc Lowenstein, Robert Wannamaker, and Wadada Leo Smith.  

I am honored by all those who supported the creation of this album. So many humans stepped up to pre-order, or just offer a few of their dollars to make this album a reality.  Very special thanks to:

Mani Baker, William Bing, Penelope Bigelow, Annie Bosler, Sally Bozzuto, Alanna Breen, Karla Breen, Jose Gurria-Cardenas, Chad Cole, Matt and Diana Conrad (and Nana Marcellus), Rory Cowal, Susie Forbes, Stina Hanson, Dylan Hart, Greg Hirsch, Michael Hirsch, Carolyn Horn, Keith Kelly, Norman Minor, Andrew Niven, Lance Petersen, Henry Rose, Daniel Rosenboom, Martha Stamp, David Stanton, Angela Sumser, Sheila Treston, and Adam Westbrook.

This album was recorded at the Oakwood School in North Hollywood thanks to Ivan Johnson.  Making the whole thing possible is the mind blowingly talented Alex Chalof, who came in like Army Corps of Music Engineers and set up a mobile recording studio that could rival anything in the city!  Alex also mixed the album, and I am excited to have worked with such a smart industrious and artistically strong dude.  Alex is very responsible for the sound of this album. Huge respect to the incomparable Daniel Rosenboom.  I have such tremendous love for him as an artist, and am thrilled that he has founded Orenda Records.  I am proud to release my debut large ensemble album during the inaugural year of this label. 

Thank you so much for listening, enjoy the music!  Please share it with friends and visit the Orenda Records website to find other exciting work being done by passionate Los Angeles artists.  

All I ask is that approach this and the other albums in the Orenda catalogue with fresh ears, free from old opinions about personal tastes in music.  I am sure that if you do, you’ll hear something new and exciting.


Enjoy this beautiful photo gallery of live band shot from their concert at Blue Whale in downtown Los Angeles on November 23rd, 2013. All photographs by Aubre Hill.