Talking Big Band with Casey Thomas-Burns: Conductor of the Leading Ladies

Casey getting her band ready at the West Coast Big Band Festival

1. What's your favourite thing about leading a band?

How can I pick just one thing?! Getting to work in-depth with great musicians who help me turn my vision into a reality has been wonderful. In addition to that, the support and enthusiasm that many members of the community have shown has been incredibly heartwarming, and continues to surprise me.

2. What's the most challenging thing about leading a band?

Getting everybody in the same room at the same time!

3. Who is your greatest influence?

Jill Townsend, who directs the Jill Townsend Jazz Orchestra, has always been a great role model for me. The Count Basie Band is also a huge influence in terms of my own musical style and taste.

4. What do you want women and women-identifying youth musicians to know about big/little band?

What’s great about the little-big band format is that it allows you to do many of the same things as a big band, but has the flexibility of a smaller ensemble.

5. Name your top 3 big band recordings:

  • Live at the Sands - Count Basie Band

  • Kansas City Suite - Count Basie Band

  • Airmen of Note LIVE! - US Airforce Airmen of Note

6. Why do you love Swing Music?

There’s nothing quite like a band that can really swing! It’s great to play, it’s great to hear, and it’s great to dance to.

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