Happy Everything!, May 3, 2015
Victor Herbert (1859-1924) , widely regarded as America’s greatest composer of operettas, was also one of this country’s foremost bandmasters and march composers. He succeeded Patrick Gilmore as leader of the 22nd Regimental Band in 1893 and held the position until 1900. Under Herbert, the Gilmore Band’s popularity and acclaim was sustained. The President’s March was first published in 1898 and dedicated to President McKinley. It was Herbert’s hope that this composition would forever be identified with the office of the President of the United States, replacing Hail to the Chief.
Conductor's Choice, March 22, 2015
Eric Osterling (1926-2005) was raised in West Hartford, Connecticut and became a professional pianist at age 14. He graduated from Ithaca College, and did graduate work at University of Connecticut and the Hartt College of Music. Osterling was a career music educator and director of music in Portland, Connecticut Public Schools for 34 years. He was a prolific composer and arranger with 250 published works to his credit, among them Thundercrest March, composed in 1964. With its stirring rhythm, lively march tempo, and dynamic contrasts, this work has become a popular march in the United States as well as the United Kingdom.
And All That Jazz!, February 8, 2015
“We, the band, didn’t come here to set any fashions in music or to create any new swing styles – we came merely to bring a much-needed touch of home to some lads who have been here a couple of years,” wrote Capt. Glenn Miller in a September, 1944 letter from England. Yet, his Army Air Force Band did affect a new approach to popular music, and the St. Louis Blues March represents but one of Miller’s contributions to military repertoire that has remained popular for the last seventy years. Miller’s World War II Air Force band lives on through its musical descendant, the present day Airmen of Note of the United States Air Force.
Thad Jones was a highly regarded jazz trumpet player, composer and co-leader of the Thad Jones & Mel Lewis big band that played for a number of years in the NYC area. Jones wrote A Child Is Born as an instrumental ballad in 1969; Alec Wilder, himself an accomplished composer, later added poignant lyrics to the song. It has been cherished as an instrumental and vocal feature by any number of jazz artists and is Jones’ most popular and unforgettable composition.
During the days of the great swing bands musical royalty held court across the country. There was the King of Swing (Benny Goodman), King of Jazz (Paul Whiteman), King of the Clarinet (Artie Shaw), the Waltz King (Wayne King), a Count (Basie), and a Duke. William “Duke” Ellington gave us a wealth of music over his long career, and Duke Ellington in Concert provides a sampling of Ellington’s most memorable and recognizable music. The medley includes Take The A Train (1941), Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (1942), Mood Indigo (1931), Caravan (1937), and concludes with the song that almost epitomizes the whole big band era, It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing (1932).
Bye, Bye, Blackbird by composer Ray Henderson and lyricist Mort Dixon was published in 1926. The songwriting team of Dixon and Henderson was a brief partnership from 1923 to 1927, with this song being their most successful work. Almost folk-like in its simplicity, this is a great favorite of traditional jazz and Dixieland players.
Jazz standards often begin their long life as songs from other sources. People, composed by Jule Styne with lyrics by Bob Merrill for the 1964 Broadway musical Funny Girl, is one of those songs. It has been covered by an impressive list of vocalists and instrumentalists, but it is considered the signature song of Barbra Streisand who introduced the song as Funny Girl’s Fanny Brice. Styne developed his feel for popular music from working with the jazz bands of the 1920’s in Chicago.
In a jumpin’ tribute to this golden age of American music, Big Band Signatures features some of the most unforgettable tunes of the Big Band Era – those tunes we know and recognize as trademarks of the legendary artists of the time. Included in the medley are Let’s Dance (Benny Goodman), Peanut Vendor (Stan Kenton), Caravan (Duke Ellington), April in Paris (Count Basie), In the Mood (Glenn Miller), Woodchopper’s Ball (Woody Herman), and Leap Frog (Les Brown).
Yardbird Suite is a jazz standard composed by Charlie Parker in 1946. The title also refers to a jazz club in Edmonton, Canada named for the Charlie Parker song. Parker (1920-1955), nicknamed “Yardbird” and “Bird,” was an American saxophonist and composer. He was a leading figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique and improvisation.
Saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter has left his footprint on the musical terrain and has created a body of work that is a monument to artistic imagination. Shorter played with greats like John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, and co-founded noted jazz fusion group Weather Report. A nine-time Grammy Award winner, he was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1998. Composed by Shorter and recorded by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in 1963, One by One is a dynamic jazz feature with a catchy introduction and outstanding melody.
As the blues moved out of its birthplace in New Orleans during the early 1920’s, one area that became an epicenter of blues and jazz was Kansas City. Bennie Moten led a jazz/blues band in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and in 1932 he and his brother, Buster, composed Moten Swing. It would become a jazz classic, especially for another Kansas City band, Andy Kirk and his 12 Clouds of Joy. Moten’s influence would be felt for several generations, not only because of the popularity of Moten Swing, but because his band included future luminaries in the jazz and swing world, particularly William “Count” Basie.
My Funny Valentine was composed by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers in 1937 for their Broadway production Babes in Arms. The song is so good that it has outlived its stage origins to become a standard for vocalists and instrumentalists, including jazz artists. The Richardson Community Band and the Rowlett High School Jazz Band offer a jazz and bossa nova tinged rendition of My Funny Valentine.
Stan Kenton will be remembered as one of the most innovative jazz artists ever. During his four decades as a professional musician, from the 1940’s to the late 1970’s, he was always searching for new horizons for his music, and was an early proponent of more progressive music for big bands. Kenton was also a leader in the creation of jazz education curriculum in the 1950’s, and he bequeathed his entire library to the University of North Texas and its famed jazz studies school. Artistry in Rhythm demonstrates Kenton’s penchant for dramatic, confident, and ambitious music. The work was Kenton’s theme song, and was well suited to introduce his music on all radio and concert dates.
Film scoring master John Williams has written music for a variety of genres and styles, and his jazz roots are showcased in John Williams Swings. Found in this entertaining medley are Cantina Band from Star Wars, the main theme from Catch Me If You Can, and the rousing Swing, Swing, Swing from the movie 1941. In 2009, Williams received the National Medal of Arts at the White House in Washington, D.C. for his achievements in symphonic music for films, and "as a pre-eminent composer and conductor [whose] scores have defined and inspired modern movie-going for decades.”
John Philip Sousa loved horses in spite of the fact that a fall from a spirited steed named Patrician Charley in 1921 limited the use of his left arm for the rest of his life. Three years after the injury he wrote The Black Horse Troop and dedicated it to the mounted division of a Cleveland National Guard unit. When the Sousa Band premiered the march in Cleveland in 1925, the troopers rode their beautiful black horses right up on the stage with the band.
To B or Not to B, November 2, 2014
On September 14, 1814, U.S. soldiers at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry raised a huge American flag to celebrate a crucial victory over British forces during the War of 1812. The sight of those “broad stripes and bright stars” inspired Francis Scott Key to write a song that eventually became the United States’ national anthem. Through the power of music the Star Spangled Banner still unites us all. This afternoon’s dramatic and distinctive setting of our national anthem was penned by John Williams for the pre-game ceremonies of the 2004 Rose Bowl.
John N. Klohr, born in Cincinnati in 1869, began his career in music as a vaudeville trombonist. He also played in the Syrian Temple Shrine Band, led by fellow composer Henry Fillmore, and was a trombonist in Henry Fillmore's concert band from 1921 to 1926. Klohr was the composer of several band works with his most famous being The Billboard March, a circus march written in 1901 and dedicated to the Billboard music-industry magazine.
Ye Banks and Braes o’ Bonnie Doon is a Scottish song written by Robert Burns in 1791, also sometimes known as The Banks O' Doon. It is said that the original tune was called The Caledonian Hunt’s Delight and Burns borrowed the melody for his poem. The Doon is a river that flows from Loch Doon to the Firth of Clyde in Ayrshire, Scotland, past Burns' home town of Alloway.
Symphony No. 5 in C minor by Ludwig van Beethoven was written during the years 1804–1808. Beethoven repeatedly interrupted his work on the Fifth to prepare other compositions, including the first version of Fidelio, the Appassionata piano sonata, the three Razumovsky string quartets, the Violin Concerto, the Fourth Piano Concerto, the Fourth Symphony, and the Mass in C. Yet, the symphony’s first movement, and the four-note opening motif in particular, is one of the most famous in Western music. The symphony premiered on December 22, 1808, in Vienna, with Beethoven himself conducting, and it soon became a standard against which many other symphonies were measured.
Cole Porter (1891-1964) wrote Begin the Beguine for his 1935 Broadway musical Jubilee. The word “beguine” identifies a style of music and dance, and in particular a slow, close couples' dance, which combined French ballroom and Latin folk influences. The beguine became popular in Paris and spread further abroad in the 1940’s, largely due to the fame of the Porter song.
The Richardson Community Band’s Birthday Bash in honor of Adolph Sax features our own Sax on The Side quartet in an exciting work. Composer Masamicz Amano (1957) is from the island of Honshu, Japan. He completed his studies at the Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo, and is now based in Europe. His work involves conducting various ensembles, such as the Filharmonia Narodowa, Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra and Orchestre Chambre de Versailles, producing recordings of his own works and composing commissioned works for the Warsaw Brass, Classic Torio, and Paderewski Festival. Concerto Grosso for Saxophone Quartet & Wind Band is a modern spin on the classical form of the concerto grosso (meaning “big concerto” in Italian). It is packed with energy and contemporary jazz sounds but retains the classical feature of passing the melodic line between a small group of soloists and the larger ensemble.
Leroy Anderson (1908-1975) was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and attended Harvard University, where his arrangements of college songs attracted the attention of Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler. The relationship with Fiedler and the Pops continued for many years, helping to establish Anderson as one of the most popular American composers of light classical music. Belle of the Ball was composed in 1951 and Anderson looked upon the piece as a modern-day American revival - or revitalization - of the Viennese waltz tradition
In 1991, Walt Disney Pictures brought the French fairy tale Beauty and the Beast to movie theaters. The 30th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, it became the first animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. The film also received five additional Academy Award nominations, including Best Original Score, Best Sound, and three separate nominations for Best Original Song. In 2002, Beauty and the Beast was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. Beauty and the Beast was Disney’s first animated film to be adapted into a Broadway musical in 1994.
Beer Barrel Polka, also known as Roll Out the Barrel, was composed by the Czech musician Jaromír Vejvoda in 1927. A number of adaptations followed, and its first lyrics were written in 1934 by Václav Zeman with the title Škoda lásky ("Wasted Love"). In June 1939, the Beer Barrel Polka, as recorded by Will Glahé, rose to #1 on the Hit Parade. During World War II, versions in many other languages were created and the song was popular among soldiers, regardless of their alliances. It was claimed many times that the song was written in the country where it had just become a hit since the actual composer was not widely known until after the war. The song found its way to America and was recorded and played by many others such as the Andrews Sisters, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Benny Goodman, Bobby Vinton, and Billie Holiday.
The versatile Dutch composer Kees Vlak (Amsterdam 1938) proves that he understands a famed American jazz idiom. His creation of Big Band Boogie offers a fresh look at the piano-based blues that became popular after 1928. To date, he has composed 370 works and has conducted many different wind bands. Vlak strives for a clearly recognizable character in his works and makes use of the distinguishing features from different countries and regions.
John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known particularly for American military and patriotic marches. Bullets and Bayonets was written at the height of America's involvement in WWI to salute the efforts of the U.S. infantry in that conflict. In the trio, one can hear the percussion beating out a staccato rhythm meant to recall machine gun fire.
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