Two Sets = Twice the Fun at Charleston Jazz Orchestra

On Saturday night, the Charleston Jazz Orchestra presented Symphonic Swing in the first of their new ‘two-performance, one-night’ format.  Last season, the performances were all at 7 pm, with a two sets split by a 10 minute intermission.  And they were selling out weeks in advance.  A good problem, but a problem none the less.

Charleston Jazz Orchestra Symphonic Swing

The resident big band decided to try something new.  In order to have room for all the jazz fans, the CJO will now play two 90-minute shows at 7 pm and 10 pm, sans intermission.  The best part is that you can enjoy dinner without having to order the early bird special, or have dinner in between and catch both performances!

Charleston Jazz Jack McCray

photo by Alice Keeney

In a touching homage to the late Jack McCray, Charleston’s ‘Jazz Angel,’ the program notes, typically written by McCray, were left blank.  “Goodnight, Mr. Charleston,” was written simply at the bottom of the page.  McCray’s signature hat rested on the podium throughout the performance, exactly where it should be.  Special guest emcee Mark Quinn did a great job, especially given that there are BIG shoes to fill.

Symphonic Swing took classical selections and rearranged them for a fresh, funky, jazz explosion of well-known classical pieces like “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” arranged for the CJO by trumpeter & leader Charlton Singleton, and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5 – Movement One,” arranged by alto sax player Jon Phillips.  Everyone knew the tunes, but the fresh take brought them to life.

Photo by Reese Moore

“Palladio,” a tune by Karl Jenkins, which you surely know from the ‘diamonds are forever’ commercials, was arranged by CJO alto sax player Robert Lewis, as well as “Les Toreadors” and “Habanera” from Carmen, both of which the crowd loved.  Salsa rhythms seeped in, and people were dancing in the aisles.  I kid you not, because I really wanted to be one of them.

As a child who grew up on classical ballet, NPR and annual performances by the North Carolina Symphony, this was one of the most enjoyable nights of classical music I’ve ever had.

Charlton Singleton, Leah Suarez and Mark Quinn; photo by Reese Moore

Symphonic Swing was accessible to everyone in the audience.  Surprising arrangements by the very musicians performing the songs on the Charleston Music Hall stage proved bandleader Singleton’s point: you DO know classical music, and it IS good, sometimes it just needs a more modern, jazzy spin.

Jack would have been proud.

Please support live music.  Support the Charleston Jazz Orchestra.  Our lives are so much better for the beautiful music these beautiful people make.

words: Stacy Huggins


2 responses to “Two Sets = Twice the Fun at Charleston Jazz Orchestra

  1. Nicely reviewed. What a magnificent idea and program solution. CJO clearly is in the forefront of jazz music and artistic creativity in Charleston. Keep it going!

  2. you have too be there to enjoy what!s going on–cjo just keep on keeping on keeping on—so

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s