Calgary Jazz Orchestra A Perfectly Frank Christmas 2011 Review

Another concert review moved over from Suite101.com to here. The Calgary Jazz Orchestra performed big band versions of Christmas classics and Frank Sinatra hits to a full house December 18, 2011 at River Park Church.

Calgary Jazz Orchestra ENTERTAINMENT 2011 Concert Review

Nostalgia, fun and music marked the January 30, 2011 jazz concert by the Calgary Jazz Orchestra concert, featuring top pop songs, VG music and movie music. Another concert review brought over from Suite101.com

Calgary Jazz Orchestra Plays Mingus and Peterson Concert Review

The Calgary Jazz Orchestra launched its 2010-11 season with The Music of Charles Mingus and Oscar Peterson on September 26, 2010. Originally published on Suite101.com .

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.

Concert Review: Calgary Jazz Orchestra's "Blues & Our Songs”

Variety, impressive licks and smart big band arrangements were on tap at the Calgary Jazz Orchestra's final concert for the 2011/12 season. This concert took place on Sunday, May 6, 2012  at the River Park Church in Calgary, Alberta.
Sir Winston Churchill High School's jazz band opened with  “Alice in Wonderland” (Bob Hilliard), an upbeat jazz waltz which featured solos on piano, electric guitar, saxophone and bari sax.
This was followed by “Pick Yourself Up” from the musical Swing Time (Jerome Kern). Director Judy L. Wishloff got the entire audience singing the refrain. This featured solos on bass, vocals, saxophone and trumpet.
Humour, Charm and Smart Arrangements Showcased in Calgary Jazz Orchestra's Own Works
The first half of the programme showcased works by Calgary Jazz Orchestra's own, a “ smorgasbord collection,” quipped CJO Director Johnny Summers. The opening number, “For PJ” (K. Hutchinson & G. Bane) was written for a colleague and friend who passed away. This upbeat work contained echoes from classic TV shows in the 1960s (e.g. Spider Man, Get Smart).

“For PJ” featured a driving bass line supported by a shuffling drum beat. The solos displayed a wonderful contrast. There was a fast and rhythmic solo by Johnny Summers on trumpet, followed by a sparkling solo on sax by Gerry Hebert in the high register. Gareth Hughes presented a soaring solo that built up to high-energy wails and shakes, while Brian Walley gave listeners a dramatic contrast with his more subdued solo on trombone. Joanna Borromeo, delivered an explosive and highly syncopated solo on piano, while guest artist Russell Broom presented a softer, yet still rhythmic solo on guitar.

“Father's Time” was a last minute addition to the programme. Gerry Hebert wrote this when his first child was born. The shifting meter shows off his “feeling askew” combined with the excitement of fatherhood. This featured solos by Jim Brenan on saxophone, Johnny Summers on trumpet, Gerry Hebert on flute and Joanne Borromeo on piano. This catchy number is from Gerry Hebert's jazz CD, BeatNiq Sessions Volume 2: Constructive Interference.Drummer Greg Baker described “Riff Knot” as a “young Count Basie type” tune. This medium jazz-blues number featured driving repeated notes followed by catchy licks on piano. This was followed by the trombone section and then the saxes and trumpets together. Sarah Matheson's solo on bari sax created an adventurous weaving line, while Russell Broom's guitar kicked up the energy a notch. Al Muirhead's trumpet solo weaved a line that was as beautiful melodically as it was rhythmically punchy.  John Gray's energetic bass solo segued smoothly into Greg Baker's punchy solo. Shane Statz's solo brought together all the weaving and pushed the ensemble towards the climax.

Three more numbers rounded out the first half. They were “Sudafed Blues” and “Chance Charm” by Shane Statz and Greg Baker's “Just a Memory”.

CJO Performs Music Made Famous by Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King and John Mayer 

From the moment Russell Broom cut loose on his guitar for “Hey Joe”, the entire audience began to bop their heads or tap along to the beat. This arrangement by Greg Baker opened with said guitar solo, complemented by “splashes” from the trumpets, saxes and trombones. Greg Baker was on double duty for this jazz blues number, delivering gritty vocals without missing a beat on percussion. The groove switched to more of a rock flavour, with the ensemble vamping to a climax.

The soundscape leading to the climax of “Hey Joe” featured jaw-dropping guitar riffs and an equally exciting drum solo.  The rhythm section traded bars with each member of the trumpet section before the audience heard one last guitar solo.

“The Thrill is Gone” (R. Hawkins, R. Darnell) is a medium blues number made famous by B.B. King. This arrangement was done by Greg Baker. It opened with Russell Broom on guitar plus the rhythm section. Gradually, layers were added, building up until Greg Baker began to sing. Russell's guitar solo featured beautiful melodies, soulful slides and varied rhythms. This segued nicely into Shane Statz's solo on sax, which shifted the melody to the upper range. The vocals returned with the trombones before being joined by the entire ensemble. The guitar and rhythm section brought the number to a rousing close.

Calgary Jazz Orchestra's Johnny Summers (Photo by R-M Arca)
The CJO ended with a slow number that was high on soul, with a bit of blues, rock and gospel thrown in. This big band arrangement of John Mayer's “Gravity” was done by Johnny Summers. This showcased Johnny's vocal range wonderfully. It featured a dramatic solo by Russell Broom, a strong and an introspective solo by Joanna Borromeo on piano that gradually built up the excitement. The choir walking in from the back midway through the number was a delightful surprise to many.Two other numbers were performed in the second set. These were “Forty-Four Blues” (R. Sykes, H. Wolf, Arr. J. Summers) and “Pride & Joy” (S.R. Vaughan, Arr. J. Summers).


About the Calgary Jazz Orchestra

The Calgary Jazz Orchestra is a 17-piece big band founded by Johnny Summers in 2004. The CJO's “Blues & Our Songs” concert featured Gerry Hebert, Gareth Hughes, Jim Brenan, Shane Statz and Sarah Matheson on saxophones. The trumpet section was comprised by Johnny Summers, Kim Beachum, Al Muirhead and Dave Foley. Brian Walley, Tim Embree, Nathan Gingrich and Greg Robertson make up the trombone section.

The Calgary Jazz Orchestra was joined by guitarist Russell Broom. Based in Calgary, Broom has won awards from the WCMA, Junos and AMPIA and has perfrormed in many concerts in Calgary and jazz music festivals.

The rhythm section included Joanna Borromeo on piano, John Gray on bass and Greg Baker on drums. Pianist Joanna Borromeo made her debut with the Calgary Jazz Orchestra at this performance. Her strong playing incorporated a mix of R&B, jazz-blues and rock that meshed perfectly with the ensemble.

“Blues & Our Songs” concludes the Calgary Jazz Orchestra's 2011/12 season. You can buy concert tickets for the 2012/13 season on the Calgary Jazz Orchestra website.

(c) 2012 by Rhona-Mae Arca, Musespeak(TM). all rights reserved.

Calgarian Johnny Summers Snags Best Film Score Nomination at AFTA

Calgary-based musician, Johnny Summers has been nominated for an award at the upcoming 2012 Annual Alberta Film & Television Awards.
Nominated for the Best Original Musical Score: Drama Award for the featured length film, Burlesque Assassins, slated to be released this spring. The award show, which will take place on May 12, celebrates excellence in Alberta film, television and new media.


“Burlesque Assassins was an exciting project to work on,” said Summers. “There were so many skilled people working on this film. It was an honour to have worked alongside them especially since it was my first score written for a full-length featured film. I can’t wait for movie to be released this spring.”


Burlesque Assassins is a WWII drama by Canadian writer/director Jonathan Joffe. It is his first feature length film.


Summers is a professional trumpeter, vocalist, composer and arranger. He performs with various ensembles such as the Johnny Summers Little Big Band and his quartet. He has been the director of the Calgary Jazz Orchestra and written half of music for the ensemble for the past eight years, and leads his own solo music career, performing across Canada. He is an active recording artist, who most recently recorded with children’s music icon, Raffi.


Summers is also a professional race car driver.

Concert Review of CJO's An Evening of Romance

Quick post - I finally got my review of the Calgary Jazz Orchestra's Feb. 12 concert "An Evening of Romance" up (hip hip hooray). It featured big band music made famous by Billie Holiday and Chet Baker.
You know, if they ever do a CD, I hope they put "My Funny Valentine" on it.  That was the BEST VERSION EVER!