In a world where everyone is scrambling for 15 minutes in the spotlight, the River City Big Band’s new CD release is a catalyst for yet another stellar performance.
This coming Saturday, March 2, at the Arden Theatre, the 18-piece band releases its sophomore album River, a follow-up to the 2010 debut recording Just Friends.
As the buzz picks up momentum, St. Albert trumpet player John Dymianiw proudly states, “It’s the best community jazz band in Edmonton.”
That is no idle boast. Whether it’s upbeat live jazz or moody background music, the band excels in exploring new boundaries. As a result, it creates highly polished, enchanting jazz that leaves a great deal of space for improvisation.
“Both our albums are unique around here in that all the music is either an original composition or arranged by myself, Allan Gilliland (trumpet) and Thomas Hay (alto sax). We all create original music to suit the band. Some of Allan’s pieces have even been adapted from orchestral works,” says music director Larry Schrum.
A drummer in the United States, a former music teacher at Harry Ainley High, he’s fronted the 18-piece band since 1998. Together with Gilliland and trumpeter Doug Zimmerman, the only founding player still remaining, Schrum produced the 11-track recording at DanLyn Studio under the steady hand of sound engineer Sandro Dominelli, a former St. Albert resident.
Exactly one year ago, the tracks were recorded live off the floor with no overdubs.
As Zimmerman puts it, “We wanted to make an authentic recording. It’s what the band sounds like. In these days of AutoTune, there’s lots of trickery and we didn’t want any part of it. It’s live music with all its imperfections and warts.”
He adds that the imperfections are probably only audible to musicians, but when you have 17 musicians playing “there’s big-time power.”
Schrum predicts Gilliland’s arrangement of Joni River’s River will be the concert’s knockout chart.
“It’s such a beautiful melody. It has beautifully heartfelt lyrics and Allen’s writing never ceases to amaze. It seems so simple and natural. He’s written so much orchestral music that even though it’s jazz, it has an orchestral feel. There’s a piano obligato at the beginning. It’s almost moody and then she (Chandelle Rimmer) comes in and sings overtop of it. The rhythm section is added and the horns fill it up.”
Rimmer, a faculty member at Grant MacEwan University’s music program and popular band vocalist, sings three melodies with the big band – River and her own composition Perspect-ism.
In Perspect-ism the St. Albert singer combines her voice and the instruments in a melting pot of timbres. The vocals are purposely treated without lyrics so the voice becomes yet another melodic instrument in the band.
Schrum describes it as having, “great variety in its chordal structure and to me it references the West Coast jazz that came out of California in the ’60s and ’70s.”
In a nod to the golden era, she also sings a Gilliland arrangement of the 1937 Rodgers and Hart standard My Funny Valentine.
Zimmerman adds that Rimmer is “a real jazz musician. She’s more than a jazz singer. She’s a craftsman and an artist. Her voice is expressive and has a high degree of emotion. She can sound wistful, happy, mournful – the whole range.”
Dymianiw was tapped to play a solo for Embraceable You, a Schrum arrangement that picks up the tempo, while Zimmerman on flugelhorn displays his technical ability in the lovely ballad Polka Dots and Moonbeams.
For more information visit www.rivercitybigband.com.
River City Big Band CD release
Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20, at door or online at www.ticketmaster.ca