Byron’s Blog: CJO “Going Rogue” by Mixing Gershwin with The Beatles!
On Thursday through Sunday of this week (October 25 – 28) at the Southern Theatre in downtown Columbus, the Columbus Jazz Orchestra will be “Going Rogue” by mixing the music of The Beatles and George Gershwin. Leading the musical charge will be two of the greatest young lions in the music business, guest artist Gerald Clayton and Jonathan Elliott of Columbus’ The Floorwalkers. Local guitarist Theo Perry (The Floorwalkers) will also bring his soulful sound to a concert that promises to be packed with energy and vibrant musical song. Our loyal fans are incredibly excited but because of the theme, we’ve also had a ton of inquires from new audience members, so I encourage you to grab your tickets before they’re all gone!
If you’re a fan of the CJO you will know that this concert is just a continuation of our efforts to share with you ALL of the great music we love. We continue to collaborate with choirs, ballet companies, gospel singers, tap dancers, comedians, visual artists, and any artist that excites and brings to life the jazz experience. This week’s concert represents yet another opportunity for you to experience the boundless nature of jazz performed by 16 of the greatest musicians in America.
There can be no doubt that the music of George Gershwin and the music of The Beatles represent two opposite poles of great songwriting. Both grabbed the ears of their respective generations, both bring intense emotional feelings to listeners, and both continue to live vibrant afterlives. The music of Gershwin is an obvious fit for any jazz musician.
While Gershwin was highly influenced by Maurice Ravel, Dimitri Shostakovich, and Igor Stravinsky, it was the influence of Tin Pan Alley and the Jazz Age that made his songs dance.
What about The Beatles? Well it might surprise you that Paul McCartney is a huge jazz fan. While growing up in Liverpool his father listened to jazz on the radio while his brother continually practiced Gershwin’s, “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” on the family piano. McCartney also fell in love with the music of Fats Waller and recently recorded the song, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” which was a big hit for Waller. John Lennon was also a jazz fan and instrumental in The Beatles recording the 1920s Tin Pan Alley tune, “Ain’t She Sweet.” Finally, when the Count Basie band recorded a second album of Beatles songs it was Ringo Starr who did the liner notes and praised the meeting of different styles.
Jazz musicians are not strangers to the music of The Beatles. The improvisational nature of jazz opens the door to acceptance of so many genres and styles. Lee Morgan, Herbie Hancock, Sarah Vaughan and Bobby McFerrin are just a few of the many jazz musicians that have recorded and performed their music. In the 1990s I was privileged to be involved in a recording session of an album called, The Beatles Tribute: An All-Star Jazz Celebration. <http://www.amazon.com/The-Beatles-Tribute-All-Star-Celebration/dp/B001NSUMII> On that album I recorded “Blackbird” along with trumpeter, Arturo Sandoval. I can’t tell you how many positive comments we’ve received from that recording because it encompasses the feeling of jazz while honoring The Beatles as great song stylists.
Most of you are familiar with guest artist Jonathan Elliott and Theo Perry. They recently set the stage on fire at as guest artists at our summer JazZoo! series and we’ve had numerous requests to bring them back ASAP! However, you’ve not experienced pianist, Gerald Clayton, you’re in for an unforgettable treat. As the son of our CJO friend John Clayton, Gerald grew up surrounded by great music. His openness to all things good caused him to embrace the music of his peers with no discrimination, yet his musicianship is built on a firm foundation of jazz classics, including the music of George Gershwin.
This is one of those “don’t miss” concerts. It’s edgy in its jazz exploration of The Beatles while traditional with its foundation of Gershwin classics. You’ll hear, “I Loves You Porgy” but you’ll also hear “Let it Be” and all songs will be framed with new arrangements and rhythmic backgrounds. This is the kind of concert experience you’ve come to expect from the Columbus Jazz Orchestra and as part of our 40th anniversary we’re gonna push it to an even higher level. So come on and join us. Don’t you miss a note!