Perfect blend from the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic
‘Strings and Things That Swing: Preserving Third Stream’
Philharmonic Chamber Ensemble
North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie
9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie
8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20
Updated: October 17, 2012 3:19PM
Some people may believe that jazz and classical music are incompatible.
But Orbert Davis thinks they make a perfect partnership. Davis will combine the two genres when the 19-piece Chamber Ensemble of his Chicago Jazz Philharmonic presents “Strings and Things That Swing: Preserving Third Stream,” at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Linking the two musical styles is not a new concept. Composer Gunther Schuller coined the phrase “Third Stream” in 1957 to describe the synthesis of classical music and jazz improvisation.
“We have very unique orchestrations in our presentations,” Davis declared. “It’s truly fusing both genres together and, I believe, in the process creating a new genre.”
For the upcoming concert, Davis said, “We’re covering the spectrum of many different ways where jazz meets classical music. For instance, I’m starting with something from my mentor, Bill Russo. He was a classical composer but a jazz musician as well.” In the piece, “Davenport Blues,” “The orchestration is very classical but the concept is very jazz,” Davis said.
Another example of this melding is in a piece that Davis composed, “An Ellington Renaissance.” “In the title, we get a sense of jazz and classical,” Davis noted. “It’s a piece that was commissioned by the Chicago Humanities Festival many years ago to celebrate the history of Duke Ellington’s trumpet players. I did research on every Duke Ellington trumpet player from the beginning to the end. It’s a piece that shows their personalities.”
The program will also include “El Moreno,” another Davis piece that the orchestra performed in concert last year as part of Davis’ rendition of Miles Davis’ (no relation) “Sketches of Spain.”
In addition, the program includes a Neal Hefti arrangement of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust,” plus pieces by Mozart, Puccini and Al Cohn, among others, all given the unique Chicago Jazz Philharmonic touch.
The program cautions, however, that selections are subject to change, noting, “After all, it’s jazz!”
Arlington Heights native Lynn LaPlante Allaway will play viola for the concert. She performed in the orchestra, chamber orchestra and District 214 honors orchestra while attending Buffalo Grove High School.
Allaway praises the ensemble and its innovative artistic director.
“Even if I’m not playing, I love listening,” she said.
“Each time, it pretty much blows my mind. I am enjoying it just as much as an audience member is. [Davis’] level of playing is out of this world, but so is his character and his personality.”
“What makes this group so enjoyable to work with,” Davis said, “is that in one night we cover a wide spectrum. The classical fan gets a classical experience — but more. And, at the same time, the jazz fan understands a little bit about the swing and improvisation that is so central to jazz.”