SWING! CUBA! Calgary Jazz Orchestra Concert Review

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

The Calgary Jazz Orchestra performed a varied and entertaining programme to an enthusiastic audience on Sunday, September 25, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. At Calgary's River Park Church. The concert featured swing jazz as well as Cuban and Latin American music.

Opening Act University of Calgary Jazz Ensemble

The U of C Jazz Ensemble kicked off the evening with four numbers, starting with the Wayne Shorter number “Speak No Evil”. The band switched gears with Maria Schneider’s “Baytrail Shuffle”. “Don't Know Why” featured the sultry voice of Ellen Doty and the rhythm section. The UCJRE wrapped up the set with Gordon Goodwin's “There's the Rub”, which had audience members bopping in their seats.

Under the direction of Dr. Jeremy Brown, the UCJRE performs music that spans the entire time-line of jazz. The jazz band performs regularly throughout the year both on and off-campus.

With just three rehearsals together, the group performed extremely well together. The violin and guitar added a freshness to the numbers.

Nate Waters, Joanna Skrajny, Josh Burton, Steve McNeilly and Kayla Koshynsky make up the saxophone section in the jazz band. Andrew Rodrigues, Jonathan Craik, Jory Wutzke and Andrea Journault make up the trumpet section. Dylan Martin, Casey McLary, Scott Tkaczuk and Josh Kay comprise the trombone section. The rhythm section is comprised of Si Rim (bass), Hannah MacGillivray (bass), Krishan Power (piano), Ian Tullis (drums), Jamison Ko (drums) and Colin Adikary (drums).

Rounding out the ensemble are vocalist Ellen Doty and violinist Jeremy Gignoux. The group was joined by Calgary guitarist Ralf Buschmeyer as well as CJO members Greg Robertson, Kim Beacham and Johnny Summers.

Swing Jazz Featured in Calgary Jazz Orchestra's First Set

“We've downsized,” quipped CJO Director Johnny Summers while the UCJRE traded places with the CJO. The group, sporting matching icy blue ties, performed hits and hidden gems from the Big Band Swing era.

First up was “Harlem Airshaft” by Duke Ellington. This upbeat number showcased the technical and creative talents of Jeremy Brown (saxophone), Johnny Summers (trumpet) and Tim Embree (trombone), drawing the first of many cheers and whistles from the audience.

Glenn Miller's “Sun Valley Jump” featured strong solos by Kim Beachum on trumpet, Greg Baker on drums and Jeremy Brown. Brown's solo, packed with runs and trills that spanned the entire range of the saxophone, drew appreciative cheers from his fellow band mates.

“The Man with the Golden Arm” is an original composition by Johnny Summers for the upcoming film Burlesque Assassins. This musical preview gives the audience a taste of what the soundtrack will be like. This catchy number featured trumpets, trombones and the rhythm section. It is easy for the listener to be transported to the era of “Batman” and “Mission Impossible” when listening to this.

Three other numbers rounded out the first half. “Goodbye” is a ballad by Gordon Jenkins. “Black and Blue” by Fats Waller, which has been covered by another jazz great – Louis Armstrong. The group closed the first half with “Air Mail Special” by C. Christian. This upbeat number has been performed by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Glenn Miller.

Sizzling Solos, Afro Cuban and Latin Jazz in CJO's Second Set

The CJO set the mood for the second set by sporting hot red ties. The group was joined by drummer Brent Van Dusen on Latin percussion. “Cachao, Creador Del Mambo” is a mambo by Bebo Valdes. This featured dramatic solos, featuring cross-rhythms, syncopation and chromatic runs by Kim Beachum, Tim Embree, Gerry Hebert and Egor Ukoloff.

An exception to the theme was made with “Dulce Amor” by Poncho Sánchez of Mexico. This slow number featured dreamy fills and lyrical solos by Rich Harding and Al Muirhead.

The final number on the programme was “Párraga” by Orlando Valle. This bright number, like all the upbeat numbers on the programme, had members of the audience tapping their toes, bopping and swaying to the music. This featured solos by Egor Ukoloff, Brent Van Dusen, Greg Baker, Jeremy Brown, Kim Beachum, Brian Walley, Sarah Matheson and Johnny Summers.

Three more numbers rounded out the second half. “Ecuacion” is a guaracha/mambo) by Bebo Valdes. “Cuban Afro” is an original composition by Greg Baker. “Quierreme Mucho” is a sexy bolero, which featured the saxophone section performing on clarinet.

About the Calgary Jazz Orchestra

CJO Director Johnny Summers founded the Calgary Jazz Orchestra in 2004. This particular concert showcased 15 of the jazz band's members: Gerry Hebert, Rich Harding, Jeremy Brown, Shane Statz and Sarah Matheson on saxophone/flute/clarinet. Johnny Summers, Kim Beachum, Gordon Wilhelm and Al Muirhead formed the trumpet section. Brian Walley, Tim Embree and Greg Robertson performed on the trombone. The rhythm section was comprised of Egor Ukoloff on piano, Kodi Hutchinson on bass and Greg Baker on drums. Music for this performance was arranged by Johnny Summers and Greg Baker.

Jazz lovers will have four more opportunities to enjoy some high-calibre performances by the Calgary Jazz Orchestra this season. On October 29, the CJO will perform at The Al Capone Charade, a gangster Halloween party. Upcoming season concerts include A Perfectly Frank Christmas, the music of Billie Holliday and Chet Baker and finally a concert featuring blues tunes and numbers written by members of the Calgary Jazz Orchestra.

The Calgary Jazz Orchestra's 2011/12 season got off to a lively start on September 25, 2011 with SWING! CUBA!. This concert featured impressive solos, as well as a diverse mix of swing jazz hits, Latin American music and Cuban grooves that had members of the audience tapping and bopping long after the performance ended.

Originally published on Suite101.com on September 28, 2011. Updated July 13, 2013.