Concert Review: Calgary Jazz Orchestra Plays Brubeck and the Adderley Brothers

Lively music and exciting solos were on the programme at the Calgary Jazz Orchestra's first concert for the 2012/13 season. This concert took place on Sunday, October 21, 2012  at the River Park Church in Calgary, Alberta. The William Aberhart Jazz Ensemble, directed by Kevin Willms took to the stage first, performing three numbers. The first was "Hay Burner" by composer and big band arranger, Sammy Nestico, a mid-tempo number.

The William Aberhart Jazz Ensemble Plays at the Calgary Jazz Orchestra concert. Photo by R-M Arca.

This was followed up with Duke Ellington's "Pyramid", which is a medium, Latin-influenced number. This featured some lovely solos on trombone, clarinet, tenor sax, trumpet and bari sax.

The jazz band wrapped up with "Groovin' Hard" by Don Menza. This upbeat swing number featured solos on drums, tenor sax, piano and guitar.

The Calgary Jazz Orchestra Performs the Music of the Adderley Brothers

The first half of the CJO's program featured some hard bop by trumpeter and composer Nat Adderley and his brother, alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley.

The jazz ensemble opened the first set with "Hayseed". This lively number featured solos by Gerry Hebert on saxophone, Kim Beachum on trumpet, Egor Ukoloff on piano and Brian Walley on trombone. A highlight was when Jeremy Brown (saxophone) and Greg Baker (drums) were trading fours.

Another highlight wasn't listed on the programme. The late addition was "Tenderly", arranged by pianist Egor Ukoloff. It was performed by Egor Ukoloff, Jeremy Brown, Johnny Summers, Kodi Hutchinson and Greg Baker.

Egor Ukoloff opened with a Gershwin-esque introduction, complete with rolls and waves of blues chords and arpeggiated patterns. A sensitive presentation of the "head" was delivered by Johnny Summers on trumpet and Jeremy Brown. Jeremy's lines were quite varied, one moment, lyrical and wavy and the next, marcato as the melody grew.

In contrast, Johnny's lines were softer with tender motifs that mimicked the murmurings between lovers. This gradually ave way to a more rhythmic part as the rhythm section led the transition to the piano solo.

Egor's featured rhythmic motives and sequences. Truly, the architecture of their solos was simply sublime.

Five other songs were included in the first set. They were: “Work Song”, “Unit Seven”, “Sermonette”, “Jackleg” and “ Spectacular”.

The CJO Performs West Coast Jazz by Paul Desmond & Dave Brubeck

I must come clean, I am a huge Brubeck fan. I guess that makes me a West Coast jazz fan as well. The second half is what I had eagerly anticipated for months! Well, ever since the Calgary Jazz Orchestra announced its 2012/13 season. The CJO performed the music of the Adderley brothers and Dave Brubeck. Photo by R-M Arca.

The CJO performed the music of the Adderley brothers and Dave Brubeck. Photo by R-M Arca.

Director Johnny Summers shared the story behind his arrangement of “Take Five”. He asked a visiting musician for ideas on how to approach arranging this iconic tune. He was told “Don't bother.”

 
The result was an exciting arrangement. The punchy 5/4 rhythms prevail but the shaping was exquisite. Gerry Hebert's solo meandered, gradually leading the audience up to Shane Statz's solo on sax. It featured longer rhythms.
 
The middle section had a distinct “Get Smart” vibe. It also featured Rich Harding on alto sax. His solo started slowly and gradually built up the audience with trickier rhythms.
 
In contrast, Johnny Summers' solo built up in waves, punctuated by “splats”. Greg Baker's solo also built up in waves with punchy rhythms.
 
The final number on the programme was “Blue Rondo àla Turk”. Egor Ukoloff opened, followed by Greg Baker and Kodi Hutchinson. Next came the saxes, followed by the trumpets and trombones. The transitions between the swing theme and the Turkish theme was executed marvelously, gradually gaining momentum and energy.
 
Gerry Hebert marked the first transition to swing, followed by Rich Harding on sax in a lower register. Then, the pair traded fours, then twos, building up the excitement with faster rhythms.
 
Johnny Summers' solo during the “Turkish” part was slow and steady, at first, then got louder, higher and faster. This was punctuated by blasts of rapid descents to the lower register.
 
Egor Ukoloff's solo was blues-infused, featuring a soulful melodic line and crunchy chords. The music gained speed and continued to push towards a very energetic ending.
Other songs featured in the second set include “Charles Matthew Hallelujah”, “In Your Own Sweet Way” and “Unsquare Dance”. The CJO performed Cannonball Adderley's “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” as an encore.

Upcoming Events with the CJO

The CJO's next performance is the annual Al Capone Charade. This cabaret features an evening of big band swing and dancing. The Calgary Jazz Orchestra is launching a new series called “CJO Small Group Series”. The opening performance, “From the Plantation to the Penitentiary” is on Thursday, November 22, 2012, and will feature the music of Wynton Marsalis.

To find out more about CJO and the jazz ensemble's upcoming events, visit the Calgary Jazz Orchestra website.

The Music of David Brubeck & the Adderley Brothers was presented by the Calgary Jazz Orchestra on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at Riverpark Church. It featured big band arrangements by Greg Baker, Shane Statz, Johnny Summers and Egor Ukoloff. This enjoyable programme showcased several pieces that had heads bopping to the music throughout the evening.