The Montclair Women’s Big Band was founded in 1997 by veteran trumpeter and bandleader Ellen Seeling and producer Barbara Price. With a vivid cast of some of the best Jazz women in the Bay Area, the MWBB combines an audacious sense of Swing, tight ensemble work, and inspired solos. All About Jazz claims “the Montclair Women’s Big Band is one of the most formidable Jazz ensembles on the West Coast […] This is premium-grade Big Band Jazz, rigorously blended for high mileage and maximum pleasure.”
The MWBB cemented its status as a world-class ensemble with the release of its self-titled debut CD, which was recorded at George Lucas’s state-of-the-art Skywalker Sound in Marin, CA. Engineered by three-time GRAMMY winner Leslie Ann Jones, the studio’s legendary scoring department manager, the recording has become a bestseller on CD Baby. Jazziz Magazine labeled the recording “a Blues-drenched gem that swings with dazzling aplomb.”
Ellen Seeling is a pioneering trumpeter who is the first woman to graduate with a degree from Indiana University’s prestigious Jazz Studies program. By the late 70s, she was well established on the New York scene as an eminently versatile player who moved seamlessly among gigs with top Rock, Salsa, R&B, and Disco acts, earning three platinum RIAA record awards among her more than 30 album credits. It was while performing with a progressive women’s rock band, Isis, that she met Jean Fineberg who became her inseparable collaborator, and currently serves as the Big Band’s solo tenor and assistant director.
In its eighteen years, the MWBB has gained visibility through a series of high-profile gigs. The band performed for the GRAMMY Foundation in Los Angeles to a sold-out event, “Mavericks in Music: Celebrating the Contributions of Trailblazing Women.” Major festivals have also come calling, including gigs at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center, the San Francisco Jazz Festival, and the San Jose Jazz Festival. A favorite ensemble among social and political organizations, the band has performed for Hillary Clinton, Ron Dellums, the Human Rights Campaign, Girls Inc., and the Eden Medical Foundation. The group has also been featured on Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz,” NPR’s most popular syndicated show.
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