Widespread Depression Jazz Orchestra

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The Widespread Depression Jazz Orchestra was a nine-piece jazz ensemble founded in 1972 at Vermont's Marlboro College.

Initially, the group played 1950s style R&B and early rock and roll with guitars, piano, sax, bass guitar, drums, and a vocalist, but by the middle of the 1970s was operating as a big band revival group, in the style of the bands of Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Lionel Hampton. The unit moved to New York in 1978 under the leadership of Jon Holtzman, when it recorded the first of several full-length albums. In 1980 five of its members also played on their own as a bebop group.

Holtzman left the group around 1982, when Michael Hashim, the group's alto saxophonist, was named leader, and the musicians broadened their repertory to include swing and bop, featuring original arrangements by band members. Manager Michael Caplin renamed the group the Widespread Jazz Orchestra. WJO played at premier jazz clubs across America and around the world, and appeared at major music festivals including North Sea, Pori, Antibes, New Orleans, Montreal, Montreux + Taormina. Their 1984 Columbia Records album "Paris Blues," was produced by Dr. George Butler.


  • Downtown Uproar -- as The Widespread Depression Orchestra (Stash Records, 1979)
  • Boogie in the Barnyard -- as The Widespread Depression Orchestra (Stash, 1980)
  • Time to Jump and Shout (Stash, 1981)
  • Swing is the Thing (Adelphi Records, 1982)
  • Rockin' in Rhythm
  • Paris Blues (1984)



  • Gary W. Kennedy, "Widespread Depression Jazz Orchestra". Grove Jazz online.

Further reading[edit]

  • W. R. Stokes: “Uplifting Depression,” Washington Post (19 April 1979)
  • W. R. Stokes: “The Little Big Band,” Washington Post (2 March 1980)
  • J. S. Wilson: “Jazz: Depression Quintet,” New York Times (26 Dec 1980)
  • C. Cioe: “Backbeat: Widespread Jazz – No Longer Depressed!,” High Fidelity, vol.33 no.7 (1983), p. 84 (with discography)
  • J. S. Wilson: “A New Big Band Identity,” New York Times (19 May 1988)