The new jazzy rhythms of the big band age reflected a time of fun. The compositions ushered in new wave of optimism. Music and dance forever changed. Celebration became the sound of the new era.
Those fun centered melodies echoed Feb. 5 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center as guest conductor, pianist and arranger Rich Ridenour and the Dearborn Symphony paid tribute to big band legends.
The beloved works of Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller gave the Dearborn Symphony a chance to jazz it up. In addition, featured artists Boogie Woogie Babies sang old Andrews Sister favorites with sweet ease. The annual pop concert lived up to its title, Big Band Blast!
The program opened with Dorsey’s “Opus 1,” arranged by Ridenour. The toe-tapper set the tone for the entire show, as Ridenour conducted as well as accompanied the Dearborn Symphony on the piano. Ridenour arrangements of Ellington’s “New World a Comin’,” Dorsey’s “Song of India,” Gray and Sigma’s “Pennsylvania 6-500” and Ary Barosso’s “Brazil” followed.
The guest conductor hosted the night’s performance with the ease of a true showman, as he welcomed each musical composition with some interesting historic trivia or short story.
Boogie Woogie Babies Mary Rademacher, Barbara Wisse and Francesca Amari delighted patrons with their vocals. They sang Jacobs and Secunda’s “Bei Mir Bist du Schoen,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” by Brown, Stept and Tobias and Miller’s “In the Mood.” The exhilarating trio closed the first half of the night performance.
The second half of the night’s show opened with Mancini and Custer’s “Theme from Peter Gunn.” Ellington’s “Take the A Train” arranged by Ridenour followed. Ridenour’s experience of riding the A train in New York lent itself well to the introduction of the work.
“1:00 Jump” by Count Basie and arranged by Ridenour followed. Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine” arranged by Hanson came next. Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” arranged by Ridenour included a human clock as he picked a volunteer to time the minute on the number. Young volunteer bubble blowers, reminiscent of the Lawrence Welk Show also took center stage.
Next the Boogie Woogie Babies sang three wonderful numbers; Fuqua and Freed’s “Sincerely,” Rae and Prince’s “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” and Hanson’s arrangement of Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
The night’s performance closed with a drum solo, tap dancing and many laughs.
The show truly was about the music and the happy times that shaped the big band sound.
Mark your calendar for March 19 as Kypros Markou returns to the podium with featured oboist Nancy Ambrose King to highlight the music of Schubert, Mullikin, Copland and Strauss in “Sounds of Spring.” Tickets range from $10 to $30. For more information call (313) 565-2424 or go to dearbornsymphony.org.