The Many Sides of Music – Glenn Franke: Musician, Big Band Arranger, Entertainer’s Tax Man

 Astimusica 1999, Gianni Basso Big Band with the famous African American trombonist Slide Hampton for a concert documented on CD.  Image credit:  http://lucalab.jimdo.com/fotostoria/  

Astimusica 1999, Gianni Basso Big Band with the famous African American trombonist Slide Hampton for a concert documented on CD.  Image credit: http://lucalab.jimdo.com/fotostoria/ 

By Gregory Burrus

In years gone by the “Big Band” sound was something that everyone knew and loved.  You see, “big band is a type of musical ensemble associated with playing jazz music and which became popular during the Swing Era from the early 1930s until the late 1940’s.  A big band typically consists of approximately 12 to 25 musicians and contains saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and a rhythm section.  The terms jazz band, jazz ensemble, stage band, jazz orchestra, and dance band are also used to refer to this type of ensemble.” [1]  Typically, in the mid-1920s, big bands, consisted of 10–25 pieces, came to dominate popular music and they played standards.  Towards the end of the 1920s, a new form of Big Band emerged which was more authentically "jazz," in that more space was given to improvised soloing. [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_band

 Julius Tolentino 2016, conducting 1 of 4  Newark Academy  Big Bands at An Evening of Jazz fundraiser for victims of the school shooting in Newton, CT.  An Evening of Jazz for Newton- Newark Academy Livingston NJ .  Image credit: Gregory Burrus 

Julius Tolentino 2016, conducting 1 of 4 Newark Academy Big Bands at An Evening of Jazz fundraiser for victims of the school shooting in Newton, CT. An Evening of Jazz for Newton- Newark Academy Livingston NJ.  Image credit: Gregory Burrus 

Fast-forward to today’s music scene, many musicians and patrons, like myself, love the big band sound.  It’s very relevant to today's musicians as it is taught in many local schools, like Newark Academy in Livingston, New Jersey.  I recently went to a Fundraiser to hear big bands play, and the arranger Julius Tolentino conducted 4 big bands in two hours.  It was awesome as it went from senior High School Bands to Middle School Big Bands and back.  

Avoiding Expensive Mistakes

I also have the fortune of having a guy that lives local, named Glenn Franke, who loves Big Band, plays Big Band and loves it so much that he conducts a local Big Band.  What’s interesting is that Glenn is unique in the music industry.  By day, he is a tax accountant for all sorts of musicians who are involved FULL or PART TIME in all areas of the entertainment Industry.  As a business man, he does his tax business from New York to Los Angeles, and he operates all year ’round.  If you know anything about the troubles of past great musicians that have run into financial troubles, then you know Glenn's service is needed.  Glenn started when he left the road to study taxation at Rutgers University.  There, he obtained a degree in Accounting & Business and from there, Glenn opened his "Musictax."  Since then, Glenn has been serving Musicians, Performing Artists, and Production personnel all across the country.  Glenn is like a double independent business in that he does taxes and planning for musicians, but he also knows their business of playing music extremely well.

Glenn is a very productive guy, in that while in college he also performed locally with artists such as Donna Summer, Johnny Mathis, Manhattan Transfer, and many others.  In continuing his education, Glenn attended Berklee College of Music followed by years of performing on tour with such artists as Michael Jackson, The Spinners, Sammy Davis Jr, Mel Torme, and Buddy Rich.  During his last few years with Buddy Rich, he became his Tour Manager.  Through this experience, as well as many long meetings with Buddy’s accountant and booking agency, Glenn became knowledgeable in many financial aspects of running a musical organization.  Now, Glenn serves them all — the vocalists, orchestra musicians, Broadway performers, jazz artists, songwriters, arrangers, music companies, educators, recording studios, touring performers and, of course, Glenn also does the bandleaders and conductors. 

For The Love of Music - Big Band Leader

 Gregory Burrus captures Glenn Franke’s 2016 Big Band being directed by Glenn Franke.

Gregory Burrus captures Glenn Franke’s 2016 Big Band being directed by Glenn Franke.

The other side of Glenn is he is a Big Band leader and trombone player, which he does locally.  So, from the high rise buildings of New York to various local venues of Essex County, Glenn transforms from Corporate Accountant to Big Band Leader.  Glenn told me he has been doing Big Band leadership in multiple venues for over 4 or 5 years from Maplewood to West Orange.  Glenn gets together twice a month with musicians from all walks of life.  Whether it's Broadway performers who show up in between shows, unemployed musicians with some spare time, or a touring musician on a break, they all show up to play in his 16-piece Big Band orchestra.

One of these Monday nights if you are near West Orange, NJ, come on out and have a listen.  The music is awesome, the sound irresistible in that it takes one back to the days previously mentioned, of “The Big Bands,” super large ensembles, fancy dresses, and black and white cinema.  People swinging and dancing till they drop.  When you get a chance, check out my follow-up articles on Glenn Franke and who he plays with in his Big Band.  You can find out more about Glenn Franke, what he does for independent musicians, and more at http://musictax.com/   

 Gregory Burrus (right) with Glenn Franke 

Gregory Burrus (right) with Glenn Franke 

About the Writer

Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians and local art exhibitions.  On a regular basis he promotes art, music, business, government and local community events through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photo journalism.  Gregory Burrus resides in beautiful, historic town of South Orange, New Jersey, the home of beautiful gas lamps, many historic buildings, some wonderful old trees, the South Orange Performing Arts Center, Seton Hall University, South Mountain Reservation and many gorgeous, vibrant, growing communities in the surrounding North Jersey towns and cities of Essex County.  Having fun living life while helping others.  Visit Greg at http://facebook.com/gregoryburrus