Esemble brings big-band music to area

Air Force jazz band to perform at The Maryland Theatre

Air Force jazz band to perform at The Maryland Theatre

November 17, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

Big-band jazz music, from classic Glenn Miller Orchestra songs to contemporary spins, will be performed this Saturday by the U.S. Air Force Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble.

The free concert at The Maryland Theatre is co-sponsored by the Washington County Arts Council and the theater.

Kevin Moriarty, executive director for the arts council, says this celebration of big-band and swing heritage is the 21st free concert the arts council has sponsored this year to give people who might not otherwise have the opportunity a chance to hear a variety of live performances.

"We think this kind of music is just really optimistic and it's hopeful. It's patriotic and it delivers something that you just don't get if you're listening to Beyonc (Knowles) or Britney Spears," Moriarty says.


The 18-member band, a subunit of the U.S. Air Force Heritage of America Band, will work its way through four decades of jazz, from 1940s swing to contemporary big-band music, says Senior Master Sgt. Peter E. Aiello Jr., the ensemble's musical director.

The concert will include such familiar sounds as Miller's "In the Mood" and the contemporary "High Maintenance" by Gordon Goodwin, a leader of a Los Angeles big band on the cutting edge of big-band sound, Aiello says.

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band plays more intricate harmonies and rhythms with more of a funk-jazz fusion sound than the old swing sounds with which people are probably more familiar, he says.

Another contemporary piece the jazz ensemble will play is "Beyond the Bluebird" arranged by Rich Shanklin, Aiello says. Shanklin is a University of Akron saxophone professor who taught the ensemble's lead saxophonist, Staff Sgt. Michael S. Van Arsdale.

Shanklin has been writing for the band for three years and this latest work is a tribute to the late jazz pianist Tommy Flanagan, who played regularly at The Bluebird, a Detroit jazz club, Aiello says.

"Beyond the Bluebird" will feature pianist Master Sgt. Ronald B. Larsen.

Vocalist Master Sgt. Verlie T. Vigil will sing the version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" sung by Ella Fitzgerald with the Count Basie Orchestra; "In the Cool, Cool of the Evening," originally sung by Rosemary Clooney and recorded by Bette Midler; "Up a Lazy River" with the ensemble's Dixieland players; and Glenn Miller's "At Last."

In addition to "Up a Lazy River," the Heritage of America Dixie Players will perform another Dixieland tune, one Aiello hadn't chosen yet.

Dixieland music is improvisational with a lot of communication between the six Dixieland players in the ensemble, Aiello says.

Other songs Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble will perform include Miller's "Little Brown Jug"; "Intermission Riff," one of Stan Kenton's theme songs during the Fifties; and Goodwin's "Hunting Wabbits."

The concert will end with "America the Beautiful."

Ensemble members hope to provide the audience with a snapshot of excellence in the Air Force.

"We want them to enjoy themselves with a great night of music," Aiello says.

If you go ...

WHAT: U.S. Air Force Rhythm in Blue Jazz Ensemble concert

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

COST: Free. Advance tickets are recommended; call The Maryland Theatre at 301-790-3500. Any leftover tickets will be available at the door before the concert.

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