Calgary Jazz Orchestra Plays Mingus and Peterson Concert Review

The Calgary Jazz Orchestra opened its 2010-11 season on Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at Calgary's River Park Church. The concert featured big band jazz arrangements of music by Oscar Peterson and Charles Mingus.

An impromptu survey conducted by CJO director Johnny Summers at the beginning of the programme revealed that few people in the audience had heard of Charles Mingus. The group hoped that pairing Mingus with Peterson would attract more interest in Mingus' music.

Calgary Jazz Orchestra Performed The Music of Charles Mingus

The first half of the programme featured the jazz music of Charles Mingus. He was an American bassist, pianist, bandleader and composer who lived from 1922 – 1979. The set list reflected the stark contrasts and moodiness indicative of Mingus' musical style.

The band opened with "Boogie Stop Shuffle", from the Mingus Ah Um album released in 1959. It's a lively boogie that featured breathtaking solos. Each soloist seemed determined to outperform each other by playing faster, higher and funkier. Drummer Greg Baker drew out cries of astonishment and awe with his lightning fast solo.

Members of the jazz band exhibited a fight for virtuosic supremacy in "Haitian Fight Song" from the 1957 album The Clown. It began simply enough but quickly revealed an edgy, punchy groove as members clashed repeatedly for the duration of the number.

During "Moanin'", Sarah Matheson proved on her baritone sax that she can hold her own amidst this male-dominated jazz band. Her solos were fiery and gritty, which matched the angst of this piece from Mingus' 1959 album Blues & Roots.

The Calgary Jazz Orchestra plays big band arrangements of pop, rock, jazz and more. Photo Credit: CJO.

Two slower pieces rounded out the first half of the concert programme. "My Jelly Roll Soul", an homage to Jelly Roll Morton and "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", which is a tribute to Lester Young.

Calgary Jazz Orchestra Performed The Music of Oscar Peterson

The second set was dedicated to Canadian jazz legend Oscar Peterson (1925-2007). He is considered one of the greatest jazz pianists in the 20th and 21st centuries. The programme featured a premiere performance of Johnny Summers and Greg Baker's arrangement of Peterson's Canadiana Suite.

The eight pieces in Canadiana Suite represent various cities and regions throughout Canada, spanning east to west. In "Peterson, Oscar" in The Canadian Encyclopedia by Betty Nygaard King, Canadiana is Peterson's best-known work. The Canadiana Suite album was recorded in 1964.

Bob Erlendson opened "Ballad to the East" with a sensitive and lyrical jazz piano solo. Johnny Summers on trumpet, Rubim de Toledo on bass and Greg Baker on drums also performed solos.

"Place St. Henri" is a catchy number that captures the hustle and bustle of Montreal, where Peterson grew up. Dr. Jeremy Brown (saxophone) and Johnny Summers (trumpet) delivered rapid-fire solos that spanned the entire range of their respective instruments. Once again, Greg Baker matched their virtuosic velocity on drums.

"March Past", an upbeat number brought Canadiana to an end. This featured lightning fast solos on piano, bass, sax and trumpet. Other numbers in Canadiana Suite that were performed were "Laurentide Waltz", "Hogtown Blues", "Wheatland" and "Land of the Misty Giants".

At the end of the programme, Greg Baker called out the encore. "Can the drummer do that?" asked Johnny Summers. The audience shuffled back to hear a relaxing rendition of "Easy Does It" from the Oscar Peterson Trio's album Night Train.

The audience responded with cheers, applause and gasps of amazement throughout the concert. At the conclusion of the evening, the audience rose quickly to give the CJO a standing ovation.

About the Calgary Jazz Orchestra

The Calgary Jazz Orchestra is a sixteen-member jazz band that was founded in 2004. Gerry Hebert, Rich Harding, Dr. Jeremy Brown, Shane Statz and Sarah Matheson make up the saxophone section. Johnny Summers, Kim Beachum, Gordon Wilhelm and Al Muirhead play trumpet. Jim Scott, Carsten Rubeling, Mike Thomas and Dave Reid form the trombone section. The rhythm section is comprised of Bob Erlendson on piano, Rubim de Toledo on bass and Greg Baker on drums.

The band arrangements for this programme were by Johnny Summers and Greg Baker. The CJO is directed by Johnny Summers.

The Calgary Jazz Orchestra got the 2010-11 season off to a rousing start with The Music of Charles Mingus and Oscar Peterson on Sunday, September 26, 2010. The performance was filled with rapid-fire solos and "crunchy" harmonies.


This concert review was originally published on . All rights are reserved by Rhona-Mae Arca.