Challenging repertoire

Whether I’ve got my big band or classical hat on, I like to stretch audiences’ experiences. Like anyone else, I enjoy hearing things that I like, and just bring a smile to my face: such is my love for Count Basie’s music. (Even then, there’s the fun of exploring his less well-known charts.)

But equally important is putting music in front of both the players and the audience that is not only new to them, but sometimes not an easy play, or easy listen, but music that will reward getting to know it. (Of course, we mustn’t forget that for many of our players and audiences DYJO will be their first experience of live big band jazz -an important part of our raison d’ĂȘtre.)

Graham Hutton is very good with keeping his ear to the ground for more contemporary charts for DYJO1, and though I am somewhat less ambitious with the younger players in DYJO2, they demonstrate how quick they are to learn when I do challenge them. 

The evidence was there this Saturday: I decided to see how they got on with Thad Jones’ Central Park North. Actually dating from the late 1960s, this mini suite is a snapshot in sound of the hustle and bustle of New York, and the respite of Central Park. It’s certainly fun to play, and, we hope, a good listen. DYJO2 are using a skillfully slightly simplified version by Mike Carubia. Do have a listen to the original version in the link below. Incidentally, I spent a day in Munich with the lead trumpet featured in this recording, Al Porcino. A real character, he played lead for nearly all the great bands from the 1940s till the 1980s, and was Sinatra’s lead player for ten years. He was one of the greats, for sure – if there were one person I would like to sound like, it would be him.

Central Park North video