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Springsteen's drummer enjoying the big band life

of the Oakland Press

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Max Weinberg has left the big show. But he’s more than happy to have his Big Band.

The drummer from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band announced last month that he would be giving up his 17-year chair as band leader and musical director for Conan O’Brien as the comic launches his new late-night show on TBS — one of the primary reasons being heart surgery he underwent, secretly, in February and only recently revealed to the public. His real passion these days is a brassy 15-piece ensemble that plays a combination of originals, favorites from heroes such as Count Basie and Buddy Rich, vintage TV themes and a segment called Boss Time.

“We take a couple of Bruce’s songs and have re-worked them in a big band swing style,” says Weinberg, 59, who keeps homes in his native New Jersey and in Italy. “This isn’t like hearing the E Street Band without a singer. This is really different.”

Weinberg says he’s “always had an affection for big band swing” and has, in fact, been playing with big bands since the mid-’90s. He has “an idea for a record” for his Big Band as well but says his primary focus is playing live — and he expects to be doing that with Springsteen again as well in the future.

“It’s safe to consider (the E Street Band) an active entity,” Weinberg says. “We’ve worked a lot in the last 10 years and it was great. I don’t know (that) there’s anything imminent, but I would think that sooner rather than later we would be doing something again. But there’s no plans right now.”

The Max Weinberg Big Band performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $30. Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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