Chicago. Earth, Wind and Fire. Blood, Sweat and Tears. The invigorating, driving sound of the great horn bands of the 1970s have shaped the landscape of popular music since their rise to popularity just a few decades ago, and are the centerpiece of the next Kansas City Jazz Orchestra concert, on March 3rd. This has been a concert theme we have been looking to explore for quite some time, and the excitement is building as the music starts to come together.
Some of the most deft songwriting of that period emerged out of the pop and rock bands that incorporated a brash, brassy horn section. Think of songs like “Beginnings,” and “September.” Think of albums like Stevie Wonder’s great “Songs in the Key of Life,” with anthems like “Sir Duke” and “I Wish.” These wonderful tunes were catchy bits of storytelling pushed to new levels by the electrifying sounds of the horns. This is a concept that was a logical progression from the big band era; music with lyrics, punctuated and augmented by a gamut of wind instruments, makes for a dynamic combination. I might be biased as a trumpeter, but everything is made better with brass and woodwind instruments!
For this concert, I am trying to find a blend between the cutting, hard-driving rock style of the period and our developing concept of a truly Kansas City big band sound. There will hopefully be a balance between the two; trying to cultivate arrangements that carry the ebullience of those great bands while maintaining the swinging tradition derived from Count Basie, Thad Jones, Charlie Parker and Bobby Watson has been an artistic challenge, albeit one that is yielding some very pleasing results! At the Kauffman on March 3rd – The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra will rock your socks off!
For tickets on March 3rd at 8pm – please visit us at http://tickets.kauffmancenter.org/single/SYOS.aspx?p=10668
–Clint Ashlock, KCJO Artistic Director/Conductor