|Home||Ensembles||Faculty and Staff||Media||Merchandise||Contact Us|
Purdue jazz celebrates Indiana
as a “Crossroads of Jazz”
Those into trivia know that “Back Home Again in Indiana” enjoys a niche in jazz history as one of the first jazz standards ever recorded. This tune and the Hoosier state’s rich jazz history will be celebrated November 19 when the Purdue Jazz Band and The Original Salty Dogs, a jazz band with Purdue roots dating back to 1947, present “Crossroads of Jazz.”
Both groups will share the Loeb Playhouse stage of the Purdue Stewart Center for an 8 p.m. concert Friday, Nov. 19. It’s the first of two free jazz concerts that weekend. More light gets shed on jazz history when the American Music Repertory Ensemble, Lab and Concert Jazz Bands present “The Legacy of Benny Carter” at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, in Loeb Playhouse.
Carter, a musician, composer, arranger and band leader, “is one of the most important jazz figures you’ve never heard of,” says M.T. “Mo” Trout. He serves as director of all the Purdue bands featured on the weekend concerts.
Kicking off the history-oriented weekend, “Crossroads of Jazz” brings a band back that made jazz history on the Purdue campus. Before jazz was officially recognized by the university, ad hoc student groups were holding informal jazz jams and introducing fellow students to jazz. First named the Cary Jazz Club, then the Purdue Jazz Society, the name Salty Dogs was the one that stuck. Six of the band’s current regulars, now based in Chicago, trace their musical roots to Purdue and West Lafayette.
“The Salty Dogs will perform music from the 1920s, 30s and 40s,” says Trout. No salute to Hoosier jazz would be complete without tunes from these eras by Hoagy Carmichael, Paul Dresser and Cole Porter. The Purdue Jazz Band will salute these, plus other jazz musicians from the second half of the twentieth century with Indianapolis roots including Wes Montgomery, Freddie Hubbard, David Baker and JJ Johnson.
Indiana’s proximity to Chicago ensured it would become a jazz state. Some of the first jazz recordings were made at ‘The Gennett Studios’ in Richmond also put the state on the map by opening their doors to African-American jazz musicians when other studios wouldn’t. In the 1950s Indianapolis became a hot spot for hard bop jazz, and one of the country’s cutting edge jazz bands still calls it home – the (Mark) Buselli- (Brent) Wallarab Jazz Orchestra.
A Wallarab arrangement of Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower” will be performed by the Purdue Jazz Band. They’ll also play “An Evening Thought” by David Baker, current head of Indiana University’s Jazz Department. “It has a catchy melody, a light Latin feel and demonstrates the unusual use of harmony that Baker is famous for,” says Trout.
Logansport saxophonist Med Flory of the band known as Super Sax enjoys a footnote in Indiana jazz history for transcribing and rearranging famous Charlie Parker jazz solos for saxophone sections. His version of Charlie Parker’s “Now’s the Time” is on the program.
“You generally don’t think about the importance of jazz in Indiana but it genuinely has been a crossroads,” Trout says.
Saturday’s concert moves away from Indiana to focus on New York native Benny Carter. An active performer on both saxophone and trumpet up to his death at age 95 in 2003, he earned many honors including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987 and the National Medal of the Arts, presented by President Bill Clinton.
“Musicians know Carter, but not the general public so much,” says Trout. “Carter was the first African-American to become involved in composing film scores and to write music for TV shows. He was one of the first alto sax players to be widely emulated and copied, and he helped make the alto sax an important jazz solo instrument.”
American Music Repertory Ensemble’s portion of the Saturday concert will be devoted to Carter. Among the tunes on the program are “Blue Jive Five,” “Jackson County Jubilee” and “Symphony in Riffs.” The AMRE Singers will be featured on an arrangement for the New York Voices of “Smack Dab in the Middle.”
The Concert and Lab Jazz Bands provide contrast on that program with “a selection of newer pieces with a contemporary slant,” Trout says. To open the evening, the Concert Jazz Band will perform Victor Lopez’ arrangement of “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” Among its other tunes are Les Hooper’s “Dancin’ Fool” and an original tune, “Where Do I Begin?,” by Jeff Parthun, a member of the Lafayette School Corp. music faculty.
The Lab Jazz Band’s set includes a new arrangement of the Beatles hit “Blackbird” and Chick Corea’s “La Fiesta.”The weekend of jazz is sponsored by Purdue Bands & Orchestras. All the jazz bands will be featured next in “Holiday Cheer & All That Jazz” on Dec. 10.
Copyright © 2013, Purdue University, all rights reserved.