Swing and Motown music enjoyed their golden heydays more than five decades ago. They were larger-than-life sounds that unfortunately no longer command the same respect from radio stations now backing the more popular bubble-gum pop.
However, there is a whole new generation of admirers out there. More than 50 MacEwan University music students are reviving the elegance, energy and passion of sounds that attracted dance couples to the floor by the thousands.
MacEwan’s showcase bands kick off the music department’s season with A Tribute to Motown and Soul on Sunday, Nov. 29.
Led by the department’s voice section head Chandelle Rimmer and piano section head Dr. William Richards, two showcase bands pay homage to Detroit’s Motown Record Corporation with featured works from Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin to name a few.
Following on Monday, Nov. 30, Ray Baril and Jerrold Dubyk lead two big bands through a fusion of swing, jazz, Latin and funk.
Traditionally, the smaller showcase bands strutted their stuff in a January concert.
“This year it was decided there was a need for an opportunity for an additional showcase,” said Ray Baril, head of winds/brass.
“The great thing about MacEwan is that we’re not stuck doing the same things all the time. We can make adjustments that serve the needs of the students as well as the curriculum.”
The two 13-piece showcase bands jumped into the spirit of things giving their ensembles jazz-inspired names. Richards lead the Wunder Katz while Rimmer conducts the Chandeliers – two names that conjure imagery of retro-styled cool.
The Wunder Katz lean towards charts with trumpet, sax, a rhythm section and vocalists that favour tunes such as Chain of Fools and Heard It Through the Grapevine.
On the other hand, Chandeliers create their fusion using keyboard, guitar, bass, drums, percussion and vocalists – a solid recipe for the likes of Respect, Heat Wave and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
The Monday night Big Bands numbering about 20 musicians in each group brings out its own highs, but on a different scale. Students will focus on the elements of swing and the early traditions of the big band.
St. Albert’s own Tayler Bremault and Andy Demuynck have their long-standing love put to the test in Band 2 under Jerrold Dubyk.
For instance, Demuynck, a Bellerose High grad, is a trumpet major who solos in the challenging Bolivia, but switches to a flugelhorn in the ballad If I Could.
A versatile musician, he plays five instruments. To his credit he’s has done his homework, learned his arrangements and integrates his technical skills into a seamless style.
“In high school, not everybody was dedicated. But here everybody wants to be here and that makes it an amazing experience,” Demuynck said.
Baril, at the helm of Band 1, notes that Monday audiences can expect to hear the old standards they know and love such as Old Black Magic and Cheek to Cheek.
“People will enjoy the energy. It’s youth at their best.”
MacEwan Showcase Bands
Sunday, Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m.
MacEwan Big Bands
Monday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
John L. Haar Theatre
10045 – 156 St.
Tickets: $12/adults, $10/students, seniors.
Call 780-420-1757 or visit tixonthesquare.ca