If traveling back to time to go "Stompin’ At the Savoy" ballroom sounds like fun, or you’d simply like to spend an "Afternoon in New York," then you’ll want to check out American Music Review’s newest show "New York: The City in Song" on Friday, Feb. 23.
The Purdue big band, which features 20 instrumentalists and four singers, captures the mood of the city, its nightspots, its theaters and its penchant for spectacle in a free show set for 8 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St., Lafayette.
It was a recent trip to the city known as the Big Apple that inspired American Music Review’s director Bill Kisinger to put the show together. "It was all triggered by a CD I found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art called New York, New York: The City in Song and the fact that it contained ‘Stompin’ At the Savoy’," says Kisinger.
The lively, boisterous tune perfectly captures the swinging mood of the 1940s when going dancing in ballrooms like the Savoy in Harlem was all the rage. "There’s a whole lot of tunes about Harlem, Broadway, jazz - that’s what this show is about," Kisinger adds.
Homage to the famous Birdland jazz club enters the program twice, through Josef Zawinul’s "Birdland," and again in George Shearing’s "Lullaby of Birdland."
Broadway gets its due in songs that range from "Lullaby of Broadway" to "Somewhere" from Leonard Bernstein’s award-winning score for West Side Story. Another tune, ‘Lover Man," ‘is strongly associated with the great Billie Holliday who’s considered by many to be the greatest jazz singer ever," Kisinger says, while " ‘New York Afternoon’ is definitely a sunny, happy-go-lucky tune" designed to capture the city’s upbeat mood.
The stage spectacle of New York dominates the show’s second half which features Purdue’s Spring Auxiliaries and Boiler Brass, the men’s basketball band usually not heard outside Mackey Arena.
Twirlers, the Goldusters dance/drill squad, an the "All-American" Flag Corps will perform to a variety of rock hits from various eras such as "Good Golly Miss Molly" and a signature tune of the band Chicago, "25 or 6 to 4."
This part of the show ‘is all things Boiler Brass likes playing because they’re good arrangements," says Kisinger who also serves as its director. So the show bounces around from Broadway hits like "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music to movie disco tunes like "Far From Over," to old-fashioned favorites like "Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite March" which recalls the spectacle of the circus.
Despite the show’s emphasis on New York style entertainment, it also pays tribute to its home with Boiler Brass performing "Hail Purdue" and also "Hail Tuba," a variation of the university’s fight song popular in the 1980s.