Four Freshmen graduate to their own style

April 12, 2007|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Over the past five decades, 22 members have cycled through the Four Freshmen, which has lost all of its founding members along the way. But the current members of the Four Freshmen, booked for a Tuesday show at The Maryland Theatre, hope audiences will see them for what they are - a jazz quartet with its own style.

"If they come and see us, they'll see that we're doing our own thing. We're not going to just slop along trying to sound like the old guys," said Bob Ferreira, drummer and the group's bass voice.

The show wraps up a four-part concert series presented by Hagerstown Community Concert Association, said Joann Fillingham, the organization's publicity chair. Tickets to the show are $20 at the door. Admission is free with the purchase of a $40 membership package for the next concert season, Fillingham said.

Ferreira said Four Freshmen's 90-minute set at The Maryland Theatre will include the hits that made the original Four Freshmen famous in the '50s and '60s, such as "It's a Blue World" and "Day by Day." They'll also do some of the band's older, more obscure recordings, Ferreira said.


The whole show won't be limited to Four Freshmen recordings. The show also will include new takes on jazz standards that Ferreira said are part of the American songbook. Think George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Ella Fitzgerald.

Ferreira said a major misconception about the Four Freshmen's history is that the group became a gimmicky pastiche of the original group.

According to the band's Web site, the Four Freshmen formed in the late '40s and released their first hit, "It's a Blue World," in 1952.

Their album "Four Freshmen and Five Trombones" peaked at No. 6 on Billboard's Pop Albums charts in 1956, and the band landed in the top 25 six times in the next four years, according to Billboard's online music database.

But times were chnging. In the 1960s, the Beatles-led British Invasion overshadowed the band's fame. The Four Freshmen's contract with Capitol Records ended in 1964. The band's last original member, Bob Flanigan, retired in 1992. But the Four Freshmen never stopped making music.

The most recent incarnation of the Four Freshmen has been together for about five years. The band, which is producing and distributing its own music, released a recording of a live show as "Live in Holland" in 2003 and the studio album "In Session" in 2005.

Ferreira said the group is considering putting out an album for the holidays.

"There's nothing more strange than recording Christmas tunes in spring," Ferreira said.

For more information about the Four Freshmen, go to

If you go ...

WHAT: Four Freshmen, jazz quartet in concert, presented by the Hagerstown Community Concert Association

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 17

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

COST: $20 at the door. Admission is free with the purchase of a $40 membership package for the next Community Concert season.

MORE: For more information, contact Margaret Wagner of the Hagerstown Community Concert Association by calling 301-797-5521.

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