Mt. A ensembles return to the sixties

ILLUS-Opera-LisaTheriaultAnnual Pops Concert thrills audiences.

Mount Allison’s Jazz Ensemble and Symphonic Band played their annual Pops Concert at Convocation Hall last Saturday, October 19. James Kalyn’s Symphonic Band highlighted music of the 1960s, while Linda Pearse’s Jazz Ensemble continued their precedence as one of the top ensembles at Mt. A. 

The band awaited the 7 p.m. start time, and as the clock struck the hour, the lights dropped and Kalyn appeared. The band quickly spun off a medley of tunes from the era, playing a piece easily enough labelled “The Sixties.” Between numbers, Kalyn prompted the audience to a little trivia. He announced the band would now play “Colonel Bogey,” a popular march written in 1914. “Why would we be playing a piece not written in the sixties?” One audience member correctly shouted, “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” a film from 1958, which features prisoners of war whistling the tune. Kalyn proceeded to applaud the audience member, and went on to say, “It is one of my favourite marches, and I will take any excuse to play it.”

The band followed the iconic tune by playing “The Beatles: Echoes of an Era.” This tune is ubiquitously played in concerts that feature 1960s music. The medley features a plethora of Beatles hits, including “Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds,” “A Fool on the Hill,” “Michelle,” “Day Tripper,” “Penny Lane,” and closes with “Hey Jude.” The final snippet of “Hey Jude,” featured Dylan Maddix on trumpet, improvising à la John Lennon on the infamous “na na na” section of the song.

During the intermission, the Jazz Ensemble prepared for their set. The group is readying for their upcoming tour in Halifax where they will play for the Nova Scotia Band Directors. They included pieces from last year’s set list, including “Blue Yonder,” “Samba Del Gringo,” “Count Bubba,” and “Barnburner.” New members of the ensemble include David Cooper on trombone, Harris McSheffery on the keys, Mitchell Davey on guitar, and Michael Elliott splitting time in the percussion section between drums and auxiliary percussion.

The ensemble showed that they do not just play laid back swing, their nonchalance starting and stopping twice before Pearse led them into “Aaron’s Blue.” The tune features a full day’s work for the saxophone section, as they played tight, quick rhythms with great precision.

The group also invited voice major Kirsten LeBlanc to sing the standard “Come Fly With Me.” She dazzled the audience with a groovy rendition of the piece initially written for Frank Sinatra. 

The ensemble then featured soloist Jossée MacInnis on another jazz standard, “Angel Eyes.” She played tenor saxophone, and the versatile Harris McSheffery picked up Odum Abekah’s bass.

The band ended the night with “Barnburner.” Before the piece, named after its close to two hundred beats per minute tempo, Pearse introduced the band as the rhythm section vamped the piece at half-tempo. One look up from Pearse, and the band was away at full tempo.

The two bands proved their dominance again on the classical Sackville music scene. The Jazz Ensemble will now prepare for their upcoming tour, and can be caught performing in Sackville on November 29 at the Brunton Auditorium at 8 p.m. The Symphonic Band will be in action on Sunday December 1 at 8 p.m. in Convocation Hall.

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