Jazz Bands put on 'Big Swing Face' for Halloween
Getting in the spirit of Halloween, the Purdue Jazz Band puts on its “Big Swing Face” for a free concert on Friday, Oct. 18.
It is set for 8 p.m. in Loeb Playhouse of the Purdue Stewart Center. The event also features the Lab Jazz Band which opens the evening with the title tune, “Big Swing Face,” a Buddy Rich jazz standard that first became popular in the 1970s
“Everything on this concert swings,” says M.T. “Mo” Trout, director of Purdue’s jazz bands. “Even the two tunes on the program that aren’t technically swing – Pat Metheny’s “Minuano” and Bob Berg’s “American Gothic” – are swing influenced.”
Fitting in with the playfulness of Halloween, the two bands fill the concert with tunes whose titles are evocative of fun. There’s “The Doomsday Machine Meets Mr. Gelato,” “The Last Tangle of Lord Boogie, “American Gothic” and “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” for starters.
Figuring out what goes through a composer’s mind when they name a tune isn’t easy, Trout says.
“I have have no idea how Ellen Rowe came up with ‘The Doomsday Machine Meets Mr. Gelato.’ The tune has a Cuban-Latin feel, and goes back and forth between that and swing. Maybe the Cuban element is Doomsday and the swing is Mr. Gelato,” he conjectures.
Several tunes have ties to Count Basie, one of the jazz world’s most revered musicians. The Lab Band performs a Bob Mintzer arrangement of Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump” and the Purdue Jazz Band adds Bill Homan’s version of Basie’s “Tree Frog.”
“ ‘Tree Frog’ is a good-time piece, very straight ahead swing with a powerful beginning and ending, and soft piano solos that build up to big climaxes,” Trout says.
Other highlights of the show include Bob Brookmeyer’s “Hello and Good-Bye” that features an open dialoge between bass, piano and drums and as many as four performing at the same time. “The Last Tangle of Lord Boogies” comes from jazz innovator Don Ellis who, Trout says, “led the most unique swing band that ever existed. He believed that jazz could swing in odd time signatures like 33 ˝ over 8, rhythms more likely to be heard in Eastern Europe than in jazz. This piece is in 9/8 time. You start to tap your feet and realize you’ve got a extra beat, but it works really well.”
The concert closes with the Purdue Jazz Band performing Harold Arlen’s “Between the Devil and the Big Blue Sea,” a tune that provides the perfect cap for an evening of swing. “This arrangement was done for a Stan Kenton dance set and is just straight ahead swing,” Trout says.
The Purdue Jazz Band’s next concert is a special holiday event with the American Music Review, “Holiday Cheer & All That Jazz” set for 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, in Loeb Playhouse. Admission is free. For more information on jazz, and other concerts sponsored by Purdue University Bands, call (765) 496-6785.