BC’s Big Band Jazz Festival

BC's Big Band Jazz Festival this week

“‘Bout twenty years ago, way down in New Orleans, a group of fellows found a new kind of music. And they decided to call it… JAZZ. No other sound has what this music has. Before they knew it, it was whizzing round the world. The world was ready for a blue kind of music. And now they play it from Steamboat Springs to La Paz.” Of all the different music genres, jazz is definitely one of the most unique and universally prevalent.

Commencing on Feb. 3, the 16th Annual Big Band Jazz Festival hosted by BC’s Jazz Band will give students an awesome opportunity to immerse themselves in the foot-tapping big band jazz music.

Most jazz lovers may relate big band jazz to the swing era in the 1930s. During that period, swing jazz that emphasized a strong, rhythmic groove was extremely popular. People danced to swing music and every night on the radio, such music was broadcasted live.

While it is true that swing big bands were extremely popular at the time, big band jazz does not necessarily refer to swing jazz. What essentially sets big band apart from the other styles of jazz is its instrumentation. A big band typically consists 17 pieces of instruments: four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones and a four-piece rhythm section that includes drum, piano, bass and guitar.

Unlike other styles of jazz that focuses a lot on improvisation, the early big bands improvise very little due to the need for arrangement. It was not until later in the decade that soloists were given more freedom to extemporize.

With its dominating prevalence, big band jazz also gave rise to certain star soloists in the 1930s. Teenagers and young adults would “worship” these famous musicians and attend concerts of their favorite stars. For the same reason, big bands were also used as a morale-lifting tool during the World War II. Glenn Miller, one of the best-selling artists and bandleaders of the time, died when travelling between troop shows.

Though no longer a mainstream genre, big band jazz is still enjoyed by many nowadays. If you are one of them, or simply curious, the evening concert on  Feb. 4 featuring BC’s Jazz Band directed by local jazz legend Hal Sherman is certainly worth attending. Guest artist Alexi Nikolaev will be performing in the concert and doing a clinic on the same day during lunch hour.

Apart from the evening concert on Feb. 4, 32 Washington and Oregon high schools and middle schools are going to compete for top honors starting the day before at 8am. The top three schools in the competition will be participating in the evening concert as well.

Feb. 3: 8a.m.  5 p.m. prelims free to public J B Festival (Jr. Highs/High)

Feb. 4: 8 a.m.  5 p.m. prelims free to public J B Festival (High Schools)

Feb. 4: 8 p.m. $10 Concert

For more information call Lyneen Patnoe at 425.564.3114 or lyneen.patnoe@bellevuecollege.edu