The ECJO started off in 1993 as the "employee big band" of the Northwest's "largest software company." I didn't work there, but the leader, a bari sax player, got my name and asked if I was interested. Well, I think for the first rehearsal of the band, not only did I bring in 15-20 charts, but I also brought in a number of players to fill out the band. Over the next few months, the music we played was all from my library and more and more of the players were friends of mine from the area. At that time, all of my friends were in their early 20s or younger and all hot upcoming players. We rehearsed onsite for some time, and then after I enlisted Rich Sumstad to help with the band we scheduled our first gig, a guest spot at the Nathan Hale High School Spring concert. At some point, the band was named the "Portsmouth Big Band"...I never found out when or why...Prior to that gig, the bari sax player (who originally founded the band) got another bari player to come and play the gig with him because he was too worried about his parts.
That was the last time the "leader" showed up and all of a sudden, I was the "leader." We then moved rehearsals to Ravenna United Methodist Church and Nathan Hale High School. During the early years, the band played at the Scarlet Tree, Patti Summers' Place, the Red Hook Brewery in Woodinville WA, and a number of other events. In addition to the great players in the band, we also featured the singing talents of Marna Larsen.
In the fall of 1994, I went out to do an alumni event at the University of Washington and bumped into Matso Limtiaco, who I knew a little bit from some earlier marching band activities. Matso told me to call him if I ever needed a bari player. Well, as luck would have it...my other bari player soon left and Matso came on board. Not long after joining the band, Matso brought in his first arrangement for the band, "In A Mellow Tone." The band loved it and encouraged him to bring in music more often...so we like to think we had something to do with motivating Matso to write more and more charts for the band.
(Interruption from Matso: "When you're the baritone sax player, you don't get any solos unless you write your own charts! Sorry for interrupting.")
In 1999, the band started a one-Sunday-a-month gig at Tula's in Seattle, and later moved to the second Tuesday of every month, a schedule that continues today. Appearances around the area at various jazz festivals and events have helped bring the band more exposure.
We recorded our first ECJO CD at Triad Studios in Redmond, with engineer Mark Yeend. Mark had subbed on drums with the band a number of times, and knew the music well in addition to being a great engineer. We recorded a number of tracks in 1995, but it took until 1998 for us to get back into the studio and finish "Alive and Swingin'." Of the 13 tracks on the CD, 9 were arrangements or compositions by Matso, and the CD received radio airplay and rave reviews from around the world.
In 2003, we went back into the studio to record again, this time featuring Matso's writing exclusively. "Come Rain Or Come Shine" was released in November of 2005 and rapidly gained notoriety...
- Kevin Seeley, bandleader and lead trumpet