Special Thursday concert a send-off for Purdue Jazz Band
Offering a last blast before spring break, the Texas-bound Purdue Jazz Band heats up the stage with a special Thursday night, March 10, concert at the Long Center, 111 N. Sixth St.
The free 8 p.m. concert also features Purdue’s Lab Jazz Band and Concert Jazz Band.
Presenting a range of music from bossa nova rhythms to straight-ahead big band swing, the Purdue Jazz Band will showcase the tunes it will take to the North Texas Jazz Festival in Dallas, an invitation-only event that selects the top college bands in the country for its stage.
Bands from universities with strong schools of music feel it’s an accomplishment to make the festival, says director M.T. “Mo” Trout. To do it with a 20-member band full of engineers and management majors is particularly sweet.
“Just being invited to this prestigious festival means you’re a winner,” Trout says.
The March 10 concert, the Purdue Jazz Band’s last public appearance before leaving for the festival on March 31, shows off the program and soloists being featured at the festival.
“We want to show off our versatility,” says Trout. There’s Richie Beirach’s “Leaving,” a bossa nova tune with soft dynamics, close harmonies, and John Clayton’s “Groove Shop,” a complicated technical piece “that just swings,” says Trout. “All the way through the band gets to cut loose.”
“Leaving” gives solo opportunities to tenor saxman Cosmos Krejci, a senior from Bloomington and Shara Pearson, a freshman from Goshen playing flugelhorn. On “Groove Shop,” the solo spot is a perfect match for the talents of trumpeter Alex Fenske, a junior from Richton Park, IL. “It really fits his bluesy approach to playing,” Trout says.
“Exactly Like You” serves up swing in a straight-ahead big band style and offers singer Courtney Rohen, a junior from Grand Rapids, MI, a chance to belt out a melody and do a little scat singing as well. Pat Metheny’s challenging “First Circle” provides an appropriate finish to the festival program. “It’s very difficult and takes a band of engineers to pull it off. You have to focus, concentrate and count like mad,” says Trout.
Although it’s a special night for the Purdue Jazz Band, the Lab Jazz Band and Concert Jazz Band, also directed by Trout, will add their own musical fireworks to the occasion. Highlighting the opening set by the Concert Jazz Band is a Ken Mattis arrangement of Bob Carleton’s “Ja-Da.” When Trout first encountered the tune as a young jazz musician, it was pure Dixieland, but this modern arrangement changes the mood completely to a jazz waltz, he says.
Highlighting the Lab Jazz Band’s set is Steve Brown’s “Two Birds, One Stone.” Brown named the piece because it combines chord changes from “Bye Bye Blackbird” with a bebop style reminiscent of Charlie “The Bird” Parker. “It offers lots of students lots of room to solo,” Trout says.
The next, and final, concert of the season for Purdue jazz bands will occur at Jazz on the Hill, an outdoor event set for April 22 at Slayter Center. The Purdue Alumni Jazz Band will also perform. For more information on concerts by Purdue University Bands, call (765) 496-6785.