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AMRE performs favorite tunes from ‘Great American Songbook’ on Feb. 27
Friday, February 20, 2009
Boomers got hooked on the infectious melodies of Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, Richard Rodgers and George Gershwin tunes because their parents constantly played records full of them. On Friday, Feb. 27, many of those tunes – now being passed down to a new generation in a similar manner - will be performed by Purdue’s American Music Repertory Ensemble in its “Great American Songbook Tribute.”
The free concert is set for 8 p.m. Feb. 27 in Loeb Playhouse of the Purdue Stewart Center.
Big band versions of timeless songs like “In a Sentimental Mood,” “Luck Be A Lady,” “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street” fill the concert. “It’s very much feel good music,” says M.T. “Mo” Trout, the group’s director.
Ironically many of the tunes in the Great American Songbook collection “were very, very popular during America’s first great depression,” he says and the light-hearted tunes continue to buoy people up when times are rough.
Thinking of the Great American Songbook as a bound volume is a mistake. It’s a living, expanding collection of songs says Trout. Composers like Gershwin, Rodgers, Porter and Carmichael are the masters, making the same significant impact on their genre of music that Brahms, Beethoven and Bach made on classical music.
“Great American Songbook” is the name created for a “group of standards that are mostly in the AABA song form and tunes where the lyrics are generally as important as the music,” says Trout. The vast majority of the songs included in the Great American Songbook “were created between the 1920s and the 1960s when rock became the predominate form of popular music. Tunes came from Tin Pan Alley, from Broadway musical theater and from Hollywood films,” he says. “There are still a few composers, like Henry Mancini, whose works are often included in the Songbook tradition.”
Over the years jazz musicians and have dipped deeply and often into the Songbook, creating unique arrangements of well-known songs and playing a significant role in passing a love for these tunes onto new generations.
For the tribute concert, Trout features a wide variety of settings for Songbook tunes. “There will be a few big band numbers without vocalists to show how jazz bands incorporate these tunes into their repertoire, and a few will feature solo instruments as a solo voice,” he says. Richie Hume will be featured on alto sax in “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” and D.J. Murray will be featured on tenor saxophone in “In a Sentimental Mood.”
Two tunes – “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” and “Almost Like Being in Love” – were arranged as dance pieces for the Stan Kenton Orchestra.
The American Music Repertory Ensemble will also perform the original version of Glenn Miller’s 1942 hit “Skylark” with the group’s newist soloist Pete Weldy. He’s also featured in “One For My Baby,” a tune by Harold Arlen who’s best known as the composer of The Wizard of Oz music.
Veteran performer Joel Benson gets the singer’s spotlight in Frank Sinatra interpretations of “Luck Be a Lady” from the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls, “I Get a Kick Out of You” by Cole Porter and “I Only Have Eyes for You” by Al Dubin and Harry Warren.
Although George Gershwin was prolific as a composer he only had two tunes nominated for awards and both appear on this concert. – “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” nominated as Best Original Song at the 1937 Academy Awards, and “Embraceable You,” inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2005.
The American Music Repertory Ensemble’s next concert will be at 8 p.m. Friday, April 3, at the Super Jazz Jam in Loeb Playhouse.
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