Purdue Bands punctuate Homecoming with music
Jazz bands plus Alumni, Symphonic and Fall Concert bands perform
Piecing together tunes from different eras of jazz for its latest CD, the Purdue Jazz Band celebrates the release of “Jigsaw” with a concert on Friday, Oct. 15, in Loeb Playhouse of the Purdue Stewart Center to kick off Purdue’s 2004 Homecoming weekend.
A second concert. “Homecoming Hurrah!, on Sunday, Oct. 17, at the Long Center in downtown Lafayette, features the Purdue Alumni Band, Purdue Symphonic Band and Fall Concert Band to add a musical punctuation point to the weekend.
Both concerts are free.
Friday night’s concert brings culmination to a year-long effort to produce the Purdue Jazz Band’s new compact disc. Tunes on it “range from the newest of the new, including our 2004 premiere of David Cutler’s tune titled ‘Jigsaw’ to a lot of old standbys. There’s a lot of great Count Basie tunes and even an old Gene Krupa tune,” says jazz band director M.T. “Mo” Trout.
The disc will be offered for sale for the first time at the concert. Cost is $15. It will be available through the Purdue Bands office in Elliott Hall of Music and through the Bands web site www.purdue.edu/BANDS. Local book and record stores are also expected to stock it.
Early reaction to the disc has pleased Trout. “It sounds very good. I’ve sent it out to just a few directors, and professional musicians, and they’ve been very complimentary. We’re very excited about the project,” he says.
Even the student musicians were amazed by their accomplishments. “We were listening to it in rehearsal the other night and they asked ‘Was that us?’,” he adds.
The release concert features a tune or two off the disc, and “we’re taking the opportunity to play another piece by David Cutler, ‘Maristella,’ that was originally written for sax and a string orchestra,” Trout says. Cutler was so pleased by his experience with the Purdue Jazz Band and “Jigsaw,” that he was inspired to revamp “Maristella” into a piece for a jazz big band.
From the beginning, the piece had “a very beautiful melody,” Trout says, “and now there’s so much more to it than there was. It’s more of a ballad beginning with big loud chords reminiscent of Stan Kenton, before going into something completely different. It’s characteristic of David Cutler’s contemporary style…. which is not your dad’s big band music.”
The Oct. 15 event will be opened by the Concert Jazz Band, and also gives a featured spotlight to an Alumni Jazz Combo in honor of Homecoming. The Concert Jazz Band will perform a new rescoring of “Boplicity” from Miles Davis’ groundbreaking 1949 album “Birth of the Cool.” The concert also debuts a new jazz singer, Courtney Rohen, a junior education major from Grand Rapids, MI, who’ll perform “Route 66” and “Lush Life” among other works.
“Homecoming Hurrah!” at the Long Center on Sunday, Oct. 17, turns the musical focus to the classical repertoire. Music by Percy Grainger, which receives its inspiration from British folk tunes, highlights the Purdue Symphonic Band’s portion of the three band event.
The movements that make up “Lincolnshire Posy” are standards of the classical repertoire and considered some of the greatest band compositions every written,” says Jay Gephart, director of the Symphonic Band. “They are known for their unique musical color and are quite dramatic. Grainger liked to record folk singers and wrote their original interpretations and nuances into his pieces.”
Colorado baritone Jeremy Moore, who began his career performing at the Aspen Opera Theater Center, joins the Symphonic Band to sing another Grainger work, “Irish Tune from County Derry.” It’s Grainger’s setting of the famous Irish folksong “Danny Boy.”
Contrasting with the other well-known classical pieces on the Symphonic Band program – music from George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” and John Williams’ “Sound the Bells” – is a brand new work by Purdue senior Matt Janszen titled “Coast to Coast.” Janszen, a senior interdisciplinary engineering major from Cincinnati, OH, plans to pursue a career in composition and arranging following graduation. He has written original pieces for Purdue Theatre and Purdue Repertory Dance Company, and arranged tunes for Boiler Brass Basketball Band and American Music Review, but this is his first band composition.
“It’s been a real learning process for Matt, using different instruments to provide color that he had never written for before. The result is very tuneful and rhythmic,” says Gephart.
“Our Fall Concert Band, which opens the program, is one of the very best we’ve ever had at Purdue. There are some outstanding soloists and every section has depth so they’re capable of performing music that’s much more complex,” Gephart says.
Some of their pieces include Julie Giroux “Culloden,” inspired by an ancient Scottish-English battle; Jan Van der Roost’s “Rikudim,” four Israeli folk dances for band; and a John Wasson arrangement of music from the film “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
For more information on all Purdue Bands’ ensembles visit their web site at www.purdue.edu/BANDS. The Purdue Jazz Band’s next concert is Nov. 19. All the Purdue ensembles will be involved a trio of free holiday concerts, Dec. 10-12.