It’s a fresh season for St. City Big Band as it joins forces once again with St. Albert Community Band for another traditional winter concert.
Musical director Tom Smyth returns to the helm of St. City Big Band as musical director after a three-year stint in China. And the former Paul Kane high music director brings with him a verve and vivacity reflected in the chosen repertoire.
St. City Big Band opens the two-set concert with a handful of jazz and swing tunes layered with romance, a sense of movement and fun.
There are only two vocals in the 18-piece band’s set. Bellerose music director Karen Labahn, also a trumpet player, steps up to the microphone singing Billy Rose’s 1933 classic It’s Only a Paper Moon.
“She has a dusky sound in her voice,” says Smyth.
And tenor sax player Derek Chaston is treading in the footsteps of Ol’ Blue Eyes with The Lady is a Tramp. “He’s going to try and make it sound as Frank Sinatra as possible.”
Several of the instrumentals have an improvised section. In the ballad Gossamer Wings, the talented Jacalyn Pailin will improvise the melody as the band plays the chords they’re given.
Smyth has also included Ja-da, a Sammy Nestico tune written for the Count Basie Big Band and Louisiana Hot Sauce, “a cross between a march and a street beat.”
In JalapeĂ±o Dreams, a hot Latin number, trumpet player Jordan Backs fires off one of his solos, and in the galloping Steeple Chase, a straight-ahead rock tune, Backs and trombonist Jeremy Moorehouse wail away at another solo.
At the core is one of her favourite marches titled Brighton Beach. “The melody and counter-melody are bewitching and some of it touches my heart,” Nattress says.
Following it is Cheyenne Canyon, a slow number that depicts Colorado’s gradual emigration of people through the centuries. And then there’s David Foster’s specially commissioned Olympic Theme for the 1988 Calgary Olympics. “It’s a very energizing piece.”
One of the more interesting pieces is a medley of carols by Manheim Steamroller using electronic instruments and synthesizers. To cap everything, Nattress has added a medley from Man of La Mancha that includes an uplifting version of The Impossible Dream.
Saxophobia, a saxophone quintet stationed in the lobby, will warm up the audience with their duelling prior to the show.
St. Albert Concert Band and St. City Big Band with Saxophobia<br />Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.<br />Arden Theatre<br />Tickets: $10 adults, $6 students/seniors, band students free with paid adult ticket<br />Call Arden box office 780-459-1542