Reviewed by Vanessa Rene
March 4th, 2017, 51 Walden Street, Concord, MA
The Concord Band has reinforced their place at the head of the pack when it comes to concert bands in the Greater Boston area with their most recent concert tour-de-force, “Shades of Blue”, a concert dedicated to the influence of the blues on American Music.
These fine musicians started off the evening with their rendition of An Ellington Portrait, a compilation of favorites by perennial favorite Duke Ellington, and their execution was flawless. Other crowd pleasers in this evening of entertainment were David Southard, playing the title theme in Sammy Nestico’s Persuasion and a fine small ensemble performing the jazz composition Rocker arranged by Gerry Mulligan in 1995.
Hymn to a Blue Hour by John Mackey, a prolific composer of concert band literature who lives in Cambridge, MA, is a stirring mood piece that focuses on the hour of day when the sun has set and the light is slipping away in the blue shades of evening. The quiet, meditative style is deceptive, for it sounds simple in its flowing passages – but indeed the suspensions and dissonances necessary to build tension and feeling are devilishly hard for musicians to sustain without total concentration. Kudos to Kathryn Denney on French Horn! John Mackey is a charming and engaging gentleman with a great deal of enthusiasm for his work. Bravo!
Blue Shades by Frank Ticheli is a technically exacting piece that draws on elements of the blues – chords, rhythm changes, suspensions – without being technically a blues piece. The band performed flawlessly through a very challenging exercise in control, and the solo by Dave Purinton on clarinet, or “Licorice Stick” as it is sometimes called, really spoke!
Blue Sterling, by CBA Music Director Emeritus Bill McManus, is a wonderful piece, commissioned especially for the Concord Band as a tribute by the family of Jerry Kriedberg, alto saxophonist with the Concord Band for over 4 decades, and lover of jazz and blues. This piece is bluesy and cool, and was performed masterfully on solo alto saxophone by David Southard (his second solo performance of the evening). This piece was originally debuted in 2013, with the solo line being performed by the composer himself.
Vanessa Rene has been an oboist for most of her life and was a member of the Concord Band from 1989 to 2008. She lives in Lowell with her husband, Larry, and her dog, Bob. When she is not working, she plays the oboe with the Chelmsford Community Band and sings with the Carlisle Community Chorus.