Big Band of the Week – The Melting Pot Big Band

Three years ago trumpeter Scott Stansfield put together a big band to make a CD, which they did after six months of rehearsal. When the project was over, some musicians said, “We’re not breaking up, are we?” Stansfield then realized an ambition he’d had since 1983, when, as a sixth grader, he heard the Stan Kenton Orchestra at Towson State College. In 2016 he organized the Melting Pot Big Band (“Melting Pot” because the members are drawn from so many other bands). This ensemble is also known by some as “the trumpet band” (it has six).

Melting Pot is one of the busiest big bands in the Baltimore area. When I interviewed Stansfield for our Winter, 2018 newsletter, the band had played 13 gigs the previous year, including shows at An die Musik, Loyola University, three high school jazz festivals and some private parties. Melting Pot may also be the most documented big band in this area, with 60 videos on youtube.com.

Stansfield says that his musicians make about $40 maximum per gig, emphasizing that “people do it for the type of music and the quality of the guys who play next to them. Some even refuse the pay.” When asked about the band’s challenges, Stansfield identified finding a venue that will support a big band and advertise it. Like so many other leaders, he then cited the challenge of staffing. “I may have to make three to four calls to get a sub for a rehearsal,” he said, adding that he used 68 different musicians last year for a 21-person band.

When I mentioned the large number of big bands in the Baltimore area, Stansfield replied, “And nobody knows about them. I wish we had a weekend to feature them all.”

Melting Pot Big Band’s web site is www.meltingpotbigband.com.

This article continues our series on area big bands — if you missed any of them, you can catch them here at Big Band of the Week.