Western Standard Time are more than just a big band – although they are indeed a really large band with well over two dozen members on stage at a time. The 25-piece ska orchestra and Skatalites tribute band is dedicated to bridging the gap between traditional ska, jazz and swing with a who’s-who of Southern California musicians and an ear for arrangements.
Taking its name from a foundational tune “Eastern Standard Time,” WST’s Duke Ellington-esque swing is an inspired take on traditional ska, taking the genre’s big sound to even greater heights. Formed from the vestiges of Southern California’s thriving ska and reggae scenes from the late ‘80s-early aughts, WST’s big band arrangements can include up to four trumpets, five saxophones, four trombones, upright bass, piano, rhythm guitar, a rhythm section, drums and Latin percussion.
With the region’s deep well of talent and history of subculture, Western Standard Time could only have formed here. “The West Coast, especially L.A. is sort of coveted in that people from all over the world look to see what’s happening in L.A. from the traditional ska and reggae scene,” says founding member and trumpet player Eitan Avineri, who’s played in The Allentons, Kingston 10, Mobtown and other local ska groups.
In 2011, Avineri and saxophonist/arranger Benny Golbin wanted to create an all-star recording project dedicated to the real roots of the second and third-wave groups that were popular at the height of the local scene. Goldin charted 10 arrangements as a tribute to The Skatalites, a 10-piece Jamaican (mostly) instrumental group that first recorded in 1964 and were the pioneers of an infectious, horn-driven sound