Purdue jazz bands explore 80 years of classics in ‘Watch What Happens’
Jazz classics from Hoagy Carmichael’s 1931 hit “Up a Lazy River” to the 21 st century jazz/rock writing of Alan Baylock in “Two Seconds to Midnight,” get big band treatments in the Purdue jazz bands “Watch What Happens!” concert on Friday, Nov. 19.
Set for 8 p.m. Nov. 19 in Loeb Playhouse of the Purdue Stewart Center, the event features the Purdue Jazz Band, Lab Jazz Band and Concert Jazz Band. Admission is free, no tickets are needed.
“We’re exploring jazz standards that are not typically done in a big band setting,” says the bands’ director M.T. “Mo” Trout who’s corralled new arrangements especially for this concert.
“Three 1930s-40s classics, ‘Blue Bossa,’ ‘Straighten Up and Fly Right’ and ‘Up a Lazy River’ are associated with jazz but not particularly big band jazz,” Trout says. It’s common “to hear combos playing them, but not big bands.”
On Nov. 19, these tunes will all get big band treatments as well as a host of other jazz standards and contemporary tunes destined to become classics of the repertoire. All together they represent a span of 80 years of jazz.
Pulling from the 1930s end of the jazz spectrum is a “Tribute to Benny Goodman” performed by the Concert Jazz Band which includes the “King of Swing’s” liveliest hits – “Stompin’ at the Savoy”, “Let’s Dance” and “Sing, Sing, Sing.” Jazz fans can expect the pure Goodman sound as no attempt has been made to alter the popular bandleader’s signature style. “We will do them just the way Benny Goodman did them in the mid 1930s,” Trout promises.
Capturing the feel of that era, two singers complete the evening’s musical treat. Kathryn Goodrich, a senior management major from West Lafayette, will sing “Straighten Up and Fly Right” and “Deed I Do” with the Lab Jazz Band. Courtney Rohen, a junior education major from Grand Rapids, MI, will perform with the Purdue Jazz Band, singing Thelonius Monk’s “Round Midnight, the Rogers and Hart hit “This Can’t be Love” and Michel Legrand’s “Watch What Happens” which titles the concert.
The LeGrand tune exhibits the flair that places his music in the classic category. “Everybody loves his music because it has such nice chord progressions and it’s so colorful harmonically,” says Trout.
Looking at jazz of the 1950s, the concert pays tribute to Sonny Rollins, leader of the hard-bop school of jazz with “Oleo.” His chord changes are based on George Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm’ which are another favorite set of chord changes for jazz musicians,” Trout says. And yes, the tune’s slippery melody is named after oleo margarine which made its debut in the 1950s.
Representing the most contemporary end of the classic spectrum, the Purdue Jazz Band plays Pat Metheny’s challenging “First Circle” from his Still Life Talking album. The Lab Jazz Band plays Charley Gray’s “A Lark in the Park in the Dark,” dominated by samba rhythms and an upbeat Latin feel; and the Concert Jazz Band plays Alan Baylock’s “Two Seconds Until Midnight” which has a rock setting. “It’s titled after the notion that summing up the whole history of the earth in 24 hours, the whole history of man would lie in two seconds to midnight,” Trout says.
For more information about the concert, call Purdue Bands at 496-6785. The next jazz performance on campus features jazz settings of holiday tunes when the American Music Review, Purdue Jazz Band and Golduster “Rockettes” Dance Line combine for “Holiday Cheer & All That Jazz”on Dec. 10 in Loeb Playhouse.