Jazzin' it up at Big Band n' Bones

May 02, 2002|BY KEVIN CLAPP

Zig on a backbeat, zag on the bridge then - ZIP! - zoom into a zig-zag-zag-zig loop.

Picture untamed restraint on a colorful auditory canvas - playful, coy music that swoops through all that is expected and, more often than not, unanticipated.

And it's coming to Chambersburg, Pa.

When the jazzmen cometh, it's time to strap in for a wild ride.

Saturday at The Capitol Theatre, Cumberland Valley School of Music's Concert Jazz Band will be joined by trombone quartet Slide Show for Big Band 'n Bones, a concert featuring a combination of jazz, ballads, fast-paced standards and a healthy dose of improvisation.

"That's the heart and soul of what jazz is. I like that you never know; it's always different every time you play it," says CVSM executive director Andrew Sussman. "While you might expect the music to go in one direction, when you're listening to it you'll be surprised."


Sussman plays piano in the Concert Jazz Band, directed by David Wenerd. Wenerd, a trombonist, is a member of Slide Show with Lynn Lerew.

When big name artists have come to Chambersburg in recent years, the Concert Jazz Band served as an opening act. Slide Show has been known to appear with the Hagerstown Municipal Band, led by Lerew, from time to time.

Big Band 'n Bones is an opportunity to give both outfits a chance to shine on their own. The show will also emphasize how small musical outfits rely on each other to maximize their potential.

"Any kind of small ensemble playing is neat because you're it," Lerew says. "It really does make you row your own boat, so to speak. It really makes you a better player. If you don't play it, nobody is going to bail you out. That part of it is flat-out fun."

After Slide Show powers through an eclectic set of standards, show tunes and patriotic music, Wenerd will exchange his instrument for a baton to lead the Concert Jazz Band through its paces.

Sitting at home last week while preparing the music books for his musicians, Wenerd says he felt like a father on Christmas Eve putting together a cherished toy he knows will light up his child's face.

"Because I know just how much they'll enjoy it," he says.

Wenerd, who grew up imagining the musical possibilities of playing a brass instrument while listening to Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears, says a tight ensemble learns to communicate in a musical shorthand able to overcome any of its shortcomings.

Sussman agrees, likening the teamwork in a band to a baseball team. One superstar may be able to elevate their teammates, but sometimes it takes an entire team effort to be successful.

"There are all sorts of instances where maybe if somebody's soloing and hits the wrong note, the ensemble is listening and the pianist can play a chord to make it sound right," he says. "It's like a conversation. When you're playing with a group there's a musical dialogue going on between musicians and everybody's listening and responding."

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