Get “in the mood” for the holidays with Purdue big band jazz
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Getting “in the mood” for the holidays in big band style, Purdue’s three jazz bands present “Holiday Cheer & All That Jazz” on Friday, Dec. 8, a free concert packed with jazzy versions of seasonal standards – “Winter Wonderland,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Deck the Halls,” “The Christmas Song,” “Jingle Bells” and more.
The Purdue Jazz Band, American Music Repertory Ensemble and Lab Jazz Band all get spotlights at the Dec. 8 concert set for 8 p.m. in Loeb Playhouse of the Purdue Stewart Center. Admission is free. Preceding the concert is “Tuba Christmas,” an annual event where tubists and euphonium players offer low brass versions of favorite holiday tunes. It begins at 7 p.m. in the lobby of Stewart Center; admission is also free.
The whole evening’s designed to be upbeat and light. “We’ve got good seasonal songs that put everyone in the mood for the holidays, offering versions that range from contemporary rock to old style big band and lots of different vocals,” says M.T. “Mo” Trout, director of all three jazz bands. “It’s a very appealing family show that also shows off what our students do best.”
Given the season, audiences can expect nostalgia and they’ll get heaping doses of it in holiday arrangements by big band greats Stan Kenton and Glenn Miller. American Music Repertory Ensemble will perform Miller versions of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Sleigh Ride.”
In true Glenn Miller style “Sleigh Ride” contains some of his signature musical elements with a specific but tongue-in-cheek allusion to another Miller hit “Pennsylvania 6-5000.”
Two different arrangements of “Jingle Bells” spice up the concert, one by Miller performed by the Purdue Jazz Band, which incorporates the same techniques the noted band leader used in “In the Mood” to build excitement. When American Music Repertory Ensemble tackles “Jingle Bells,” it’ll be the version made popular by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. “It’s a really fun version with lots of scooby-do-do-doing and all that stuff,” says Trout.
The Stan Kenton touch will be showcased in two songs from one of the first big band ‘holiday’ albums, A Merry Christmas dating to the early 1960s. “All the tunes were incredible but few other bands programmed them because Kenton used mellophones instead of saxophones. They’ve recently been rescored for saxophone so they are more accessible,” says Trout, and will be performed by the Purdue Jazz Band.
Each Kenton arrangement has its own unique flair. In “The Holly and The Ivy,” the whole band has to whistle in key. “ ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is a great arrangement with the feeling of a brass choir. Each day gets a whole different treatment. It also features the talents of our pianist Zachary Christian,” Trout says. Christian is a senior from Huntsville, IN.
Guitarist Kevin Chin gets the spotlight in “Greensleeves.” The arrangement’s jazzy in the middle but opens and closes with Chin, a senior from Wilmette, IL, playing classical style guitar.
The show’s other highlights include a Tom Kubis arrangement of “Deck the Halls” that’s “got a driving sound to it that reminds me of the Manheim Steamroller approach to holiday music,” Trout says. The familiar “O Christmas Tree” pops up in an unusual arrangement that gives featured parts to string bass and oboe; “Winter Wonderland” spotlights bari sax and vibes; and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” has a Latin jazz feel to it.
“Holiday Cheer & All That Jazz” is sponsored by Purdue Bands & Orchestra. The department works with Brent’s Bench to sponsor “Tuba Christmas.” The next jazz event is the annual Purdue Jazz Festival, Jan. 18-21, offering headliner concerts, competition, jazz jams and more. Visit www.purdue.edu/bands/jazzfest