The Spokane Jazz Orchestra begins its new season with a salute to the hemisphere - “Music of the Americas.” Latin sounds, salsa and swing will emanate from the big band Saturday at The Met.
This will be the SJO’s first regular series concert since former director Paul Davis left for Texas to continue his music education. The group is now under the baton of another trumpeter, Dan Keberle, who is professor of jazz studies at Whitworth College.
Keberle, selected for the directorship in August, brings to the job a wealth of experience as a professional performer and educator with national and international credentials.
Explaining his interest in the position, Keberle says, “This is Spokane’s professional jazz band. Now that I have lived here eight years, I want to be involved.”
Keberle has high ideals in mind for the Spokane Jazz Orchestra.
He says, “The group has had some tough times, but has come a long way with Paul. The band has a really high potential, and most of the issues I have been dealing with since coming on board are meant to maximize that potential. We want to be able to give the community a really good product.”
“Some things were in place from before, like the themes for this year’s programs, but I got to pick the music. One of the things I want to do is build up the budget for music. The SJO owns some music, but this needs to increase. I have access to a lot more music, and this will bring diverse and high quality programming.”
The programming for Saturday night is exciting, culling the Latin repertory for salsas, sambas and swing. Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie was a pivotal figure in introducing Latin music to the world of jazz back in the ‘50s, so it is only right that a few of his tunes should be included.
His famous “Night in Tunisia” will be featured, as well as the Cuban-influenced “Manteca.”
Sonny Rollins, saxophonist extraordinaire, will be the focus for his own “St. Thomas,” named for the one among the Virgin Islands, and “Samba for Rollins,” written for him by Don Menza.
SJO will also play a few numbers by Chick Corea, the electronic keyboard wizard. From his album of the ‘70s, “My Spanish Heart,” we will hear “La Fiesta” in an arrangement done for the Woody Herman band.”500 Miles High” from his “Light as a Feather” album will be performed by a reduced combo, with Pamela McGuire taking the disjointed part of Flora Purim.
McGuire, a vocalist well known to Spokane audiences, will join the band for “Quiet Nights and Quiet Stars” and “One-Note Samba.”
Keberle hopes his programming will bring in a more diverse audience, as well. He says, “We have been trying to reach students in high school and junior high. Latin music is very upbeat and lively, and ought to be interesting for students, too.”
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: The Spokane Jazz Orchestra’s “Music of the Americas” Location and time: The Met, Saturday, 8 p.m. Tickets: $16, $14.50 for students, seniors, Jazz Society members, or military personnel with ID.
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