Well, I’m just back form the “land down under” – Australia. Still grappling with some extreme jet lag though… It was a great trip and very interesting being upside down on the planet. Yes, the sinks drain counterclockwise, all the star constellations appear upside-down, and you drive on the left side of the road (That took some getting used to). I came back with some wonderful Aussie expressions like G’day mate (hello) and Hoo Roo (Goodbye – See You Later) and it was interesting to learn of some I have heard in use here in the States that are actually of Australian origin, like thingamajig, wanker, kafuffle and dingbat. At lunch on day someone asked if I wanted “Tommy Sauce” then confused the issue even more when the explanation was “tomato sauce” … turns out it was ketchup… but then something called “Ka Ru Ru” was also ketchup, although they described it as “Tomato Chutney” …. go figure.
Anyway, I was there as guest conductor with the Adelaide Symphony. We did two concerts in the beautiful Adelaide Entertainment Center Theater that were billed as a Symphonic Tribute to Miles Davis. The soloist with me was trumpeter James Morrison who is considered to be Australian jazz royalty. He is well known in that part of the world and throughout Europe, having had an illustrious career including tours, recordings and performances with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles and BB King to name a few.
This program was an interesting and I believe unique approach to this music. I put together several of the Miles Davis/Gil Evans arrangements and then reconstructed and re-orchestrated them for full symphony from the original jazz orchestrations. We included some of the music from the albums Miles Ahead, Porgy & Bess; an overture knitted together with one of my original pieces; sections of Stravinsky’s Firebird suite; and for the second half of the concert the entire Sketches of Spain album. The Adelaide Symphony played brilliantly and James handled the solos with such beauty, excitement and panache that the audience was clearly mesmerized throughout with tremendous ovations at the end and demanding our impromptu encore.
Although this music is etched into the jazz repertoire, much of it is influenced by and representative of the classical symphonic realm. And while it is always difficult to get such a large symphonic orchestra to sound natural in jazz settings with the proper swing rhythms and feeling, the Adelaide Symphony was up for the challenge and pulled it off astonishingly well. kudos to them and I only hope I will be invited back again soon.
So, now back to work. Jazz Arts Project has had a very busy year so far. Our Jazz Arts Academy students are doing extremely well. We are into our third semester course and the showcase at Zebus back in February was delightful and inspiring. We are now preparing for another one in June so stay tuned. After that of course was the double hit in April with our “Art of Jazz” exhibit and gala at the Butterfly gallery and the annual ‘Talkin Jazz” series”. these were fun events and thank you all for showing up and supporting our efforts!
Now we are on to preparing for the ever popular “Summer JazzFest” at the Two River Theater. Last year we were named by the Tri-City News as a “Pick of the Year” and this year is proving to be an exciting lineup as well. It all begins on Friday July 1st and continues each Friday AND Saturday night through August 6th… mark you calendars! We are just now putting the final touches on the schedule and we will announce it as soon as possible. I hope to see you all there.
Please don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list and, if you havn’t already send in your supporting membership donations. We simply can’t do these wonderful programs without your support.
so, for now…. Cheers mate and Hoo Roo!