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 City 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.


Widespread Depression Orchestra
  • Downtown Uproar, Stash (1979); OCLC 6360561[a]
  • Boogie in the Barnyard, Stash (1980); OCLC 8007049[b]
  • Rockin' in Rhythm, Phontastic (nl) (Swd) PHONT 7527 (1980); OCLC 16909745[c]
  • Time to Jump and Shout, Stash ST 212 (1981); OCLC 8246038[d]
Widespread Jazz Orchestra


At large
  1. Jordan Sandke, trumpet
  2. Tim Atherton, trombone
  3. Michael Hashim, soprano and alto sax, leader (1982 onwards)
  4. Dean Nicyper, tenor sax
  5. David Lillie, baritone sax, leader
  6. Patrick Baron, piano
  7. Mike LeDonne, piano
  8. Roy Gerson, piano
  9. Jmes Wimpsheimer, double bass
  10. Bill Conway, double bass
  11. Mark Minkler, double bass
  12. Bill Eldridge, drums
  13. John Ellis, drums, arrangement
  14. Charlie Braun, drums
  15. Jon Holtzman, vocals, vibraphone, drums, leader (to 1982)
  16. Dan Barrett, trombone
  17. Tad Shull (de) (born 1955), tenor Sax
  18. Billy Gray, trumpet, vocals
  19. Ronnie Wells, vocals
  20. Judy Niemack, vocals
  21. Bob Zuck, guitar, vocals
  22. Jeanie Holtzman, bass, vocals
  23. Nick McDougal, alto sax, guitar
  24. Diego, tenor sax
  25. Michael Caplin, manager
  26. Paul Suihkonen, trumpet
  27. Bob Wilber, soprano sax, alto sax, clarinet
  28. Jake Epstein, clarinet, sax, arranger
  29. Billy Grey, trumpet, vocals
  30. Jim Masters, trombone, vocals
  31. Randy Sandke, trumpet
  32. Joel Helleny, trombone
  33. Peter Ecklund, arranger
  34. John Dwight, arranger
By record
  1. ^ Downtown Uproar — Jordan Sandke, Atherton, Hashim, Nicyper, Little, Holtzman, LeDonne, Flanigan, Ellis
  2. ^ Boogie in the Barnyard — Conway replaces Flanigan
  3. ^ Rockin' in Rhythm — Jordan Sandke, Atherton, Wilber, Hashim, Nicyper, Lillie, Holtzman, LeDonne, Conway, Ellis
  4. ^ Time to Jump and Shout — same except Nicyper
  5. ^ Swing is the Thing — Grey, Jordan Sandke, Masters, Hashim, Shull, Lillie, Gerson, Conway, Ellis
  6. ^ Paris Blues — Jordan Sandke, Randy Sandke, Helleny, Hashim, Shull, Lillie, LeDonne, Minkler, Braugham, Wells, Ellis, Ecklund, Dwight


  • 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)