Arts Preview: Columbus Jazz Orchestra Season Premiere
When jazz trumpeter Clark Terry died earlier this year, he left behind a legacy not only of great music, but also of having taught generations of musicians to come.
Among them is Columbus Jazz Orchestra music director Byron Stripling.
"Technically, he could do anything. And his tone, especially on the flugelhorn, was so rich and beautiful and velvety," Stripling said of his mentor. "But in his life, he had an effect on people, and he did in through teaching and mentoring. He was just doing what came naturally. He was the ultimate teacher, and that ends up being his legacy."
Stripling said Terry's legacy also includes moving the musical conversation forward. A rare practitioner of both the Count Basie and Duke Ellington schools, Terry built on that foundation by constantly improvising and reinventing what he was doing on his instrument.
That's from where "Redefining Tradition," the theme of the CJO's season-opening concerts, comes. The program, subtitled "Ellington, Basie & Beyond," will feature tunes from both the Ellington and Basie catalogs, many of which featured Terry, who developed his reputation as a jazz master while spending time with both bandleaders. The concerts will also feature a brand-new work, commissioned by the CJO, titled "CT Suite: Three Portraits in Blues."
"Our thought was, how do we say thanks?" Stripling said. "So we play a bunch of old tunes he used to play, but we do what he did and look forward.
"I asked three composers – John Clayton, Dennis Mackrel and Chad Eby – to each give their impression of Clark Terry. So we have a three-part suite that features a lot of me but also a lot of the band, and is very blues oriented. It's a totally new world premiere and I'm so glad to be able to share it."
The CJO will be joined by a sort of "holy trinity" of local guest soloists – OSU professor and sax-man Shawn "Thunder" Wallace, pianist/vocalist Dave Powers and jazz violinist Christian Howes.
"Redefining Tradition" runs Oct. 22-25, with the Saturday concert simulcast, for free, on the web through wosu.org.
"We have a gift here, with this band and this new piece, and we want everybody to have the chance to hear it," Stripling said.
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