Sounds of the Big Band Era
October 22, 2018
On the night of Oct. 17 in the West Ranch High School Theater, audience members were transported to the Big Band Era: the ‘30s and ‘40s. People filled the theater seats, ready to enjoy the sounds of the violins, saxophones, trumpets, and more.
The concert began with three pieces from the West Ranch Chamber Orchestra. One of these pieces, entitled “The Elements,” included four movements: “Earth,” “Air,” “Fire” and “Water.” The violins, violas, cellos and stand-up basses blended together in a way that stunned audience members, leaving each person breathlessly waiting for more. By simply looking at the faces of the orchestra members, one could tell just how passionate they are when it comes to their art. They never took their eyes off of their sheet music or their conductor, Mr. Marshall. Their bows moved up and down in unison, creating a visual as beautiful as the music itself.
After a brief pause, the West Ranch Lab Band (or the beginning jazz band) took the stage. The conductor, Mr. Leff, introduced the band with a quick speech explaining the theme of this year’s fall concert: “Sounds of the Big Band Era.” He explained that the Big Band Era was the only time in history in which the popularity of jazz overthrew every other genre. People would line up outside of jazz clubs, hoping to hear a snippet of the music from famous artists of the time.
The Lab Band played four songs, most of which included trumpet or saxophone soloists. The music truly transported the audience to the 1930s, especially with the song, “Li’l Darlin’,” since it was originally played by the Count Basie Orchestra, formed in 1935. The saxophones, trumpets and trombones echoed throughout the theater, bouncing off of the walls and engulfing the audience in sound. The final notes of each song sent chills down each audience member’s spine.
Lastly, the West Ranch Studio A Jazz Band played a selection of songs from the Big Band Era. The song “Trumpet Blues and Cantabile,” had a circus-like feel with trumpet and trombone solos. The audience members couldn’t help but move around in their seats to the beat of the drums. The song “Four Brothers” featured saxophone players Kevin Gillespie, Jagger Nelson, Matthew Serraino, Luke Watts and, on clarinet, Dylan Thai. The mixture of low tones from the tenor and baritone saxophones and higher-pitched sounds from the alto sax and clarinet created a melody that resonated throughout the theater, capturing the audience’s attention for the entirety of the song. The set ended with “Come Together” by The Beatles as played by the Count Basie Orchestra to signify the shift away from Big Band towards Rock and Roll.
At the very end of “Come Together,” Matthew Serraino stood up to play a solo. As soon as he hit the final note, he kicked his stand across the stage, ending the concert off with a bang.
As audience members applauded, they were transported back to present day, feeling as though they had just exited a jazz club from the 1930s.
Keep an eye out for the next West Ranch High School Jazz Concert so you too can enjoy the beautiful blend of sounds and feel as though you are transported back to the early 20th century.