Big Band music on deck for concert

Published 12:07 am Thursday, September 12, 2013

“Oh Brother, Here We Go Again!”

Such is the unofficial title of my upcoming piano concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at New Covenant Presbyterian Church.

Last year’s concert was a complete “sell-out,” which was unusual, seeing as how it was free!

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This year’s concert is no different; it is free and open to the public. The reason it is free is because no one would dare charge for what you will see and hear.

Last year, the concert was a conglomeration of music, ranging from Fats Waller to Jelly Roll Morton to Chopin and “Clair de Lune.” It was wildly received, and I am glad to say that most of the ones who attended are now out of intensive shock therapy. Who knew music could have such an effect upon people?

This year, the performance will center around music from the Big Band Era. Now, for those too young to know, that is not the title of a rock band. It is a term which applies to the fantastic musical stylings that came from the ’30s and ’40s, culminating in the “war years.”

Such were the days of large traveling bands, comprised of trumpets, saxophones, clarinets, trombones, bass, piano and drums. The great band leaders back then were legendary names like Kenton, Shaw, Ellington, the Dorseys, Miller and many others. They played a type of music called “swing,” and the dance of the day was the “jitterbug.”

“Swing was King,” and the bands played anywhere there was an auditorium big enough to accommodate their fans.

Picking the pieces to be played has been a chore; I mean, how do you choose which pieces are “the best” or the most representative? You can’t. You just have to pick some and ignore all the others in hopes that no one gets upset that you didn’t play “their song.”

I won’t spoil it for you by revealing exactly what will be played; I just urge you to come lend an ear, and I’ll try to fill it with some great music.

But it won’t stop there. Oh no, there will be some playful banter, I am sure. Perhaps a guest artist or two to supply some lyrics to the music. And maybe even a little magic break to give the digitalia a break and some rest time.

No, this will be no “high-falooting, down-the-nose, high buttoned” concert for sure! Music is the main, but fun and enjoyment is the game. And I hope that we deliver!

And lastly, even though the concert is free, there will be an opportunity at the end to make a “love donation,” which will go entirely toward the restoration of the old Baker Grand theatre organ, which I am working on. The donation is not tax-deductible, but I can assure you it will be put to good use. I may even have out for display some of the pipes and parts from the organ for viewing. It is my goal to restore the organ and have it available for the citizens of Natchez and for visitors to our city to enjoy. I have some great ideas concerning all this, but that is for another time! Just remember that you are not obligated in any way to making a donation. Just enjoy the show!

So, mark your calendar! Set your phone alarm! Tie some twine around your finger! Tell your neighbor! Hire a babysitter and put the dog in the kennel! (Or, hire a dogsitter and put the kids in the kennel.) Just come on down for some happy entertainment and joyful noise! We will do everything in our power to entertain you! (Well, just about anything. The sword-swallowing is out!)

I sincerely hope to see you there, and remember, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”


Burnley Cook is a local musician.