NMU Jazz Band opens season with ‘big band Beatles’

Nolan Krebs

The NMU jazz band will be playing the tunes of the Fab Four as they kick off the 2012-13 season on Tuesday, Oct. 16 in the Reynolds Recital Hall.

The jazz band, which usually hosts two concerts per semester, will be performing a number of Beatles hits for the show, including “Blackbird,” “Come Together,” “Norwegian Wood” and “Yesterday.”

“This show is going to be a big-band approach to the Beatles,” said NMU jazz band director Mark Flaherty. “There are a number of good arrangements for Beatles songs, and we’ve been playing with the idea for a while.”

The NMU jazz band, which is composed of 17 students, is an instrumental ensemble that typically performs pieces by well-known jazz composers, such as Duke Ellington, Bob Brookmeyer and Maria Schneider. Learning Beatles songs was a slightly different experience for some students in the band.

“It’s different than what we’ve done so far, at least in the two years that I’ve been with the band,” said sophomore alto sax player Abbie Beekman. “We learned the songs in the same form as we usually do, but things moved along a little faster because everyone had a better idea of what the songs should sound like.”

The performance may also bring in a different group of students that most jazz concerts, Beekman said.

“[Playing the Beatles songs] is cool because it will probably attract a different audience base than some of the other shows,” Beekman said. “Students should definitely go to a jazz concert at least once; the energy is spectacular and the quality of the music is excellent.”

Like most groups that fall under the big band category, the NMU jazz band has a number of different sections, including alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, trumpets, trombones, piano, guitar, bass guitar and drums.

The NMU jazz combo, which is a smaller group of seven students, features alto and tenor saxophone, trumpet, trombone, vibraphones, bass guitar, drums and a vocalist.

“For fans of jazz, the concerts are the place to be,” Flaherty said. “There’s a great atmosphere and great music. It’s also great for students to see some of their colleagues performing on stage; we’ve got some really good players this year.”

Each year, the group is featured at the NMU Jazz Festival on campus, which invites high school and middle school jazz bands from the region to participate, as well as renowned performers from around the world. This year, the festival will be held on Thursday, April 11 and Friday, April 12, and features saxophonist Jim Snidero.

The NMU Jazz Band is open to both music and non-music majors who are enrolled in MU117. Competitive auditions are held at the beginning of each semester for students who are interested in joining.

For more information on the concert, call the music department at (906) 227-2563.