-Ted Shaw, The Windsor Star, Ontario, Canada
Thank you, Adolphe Sax!
Without the 19th century Belgian inventor’s creation, there’d be no jazz and swing and no Capitol Quartet.
The American saxophone quartet returned after several years absence Friday to perform the first of three concerts with the Windsor Symphony at Capitol Theatre.
No, the quartet isn’t named after the theatre, but the musicians felt right at home in a program of swing music from the 1930s and ’40s. The concert will be repeated tonight at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Beg, borrow or steal your way in because this is one pops show that lives up to its title, Swingsational!
The orchestra was conducted by WSO assistant conductor Peter Wiebe, and he had a firm grip on the proceedings, even in a supporting role during the second half.
The opening half was mostly orchestral arrangements and featured several WSO players in solos.
Following a traditional big band-style opening of Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, the musicians got down to the business of reviving the swing era.
First up was Louis Armstrong’s Struttin’ Some Barbecue, featuring marimba soloist Etienne Gendron, dummer Julian Jeun, and the orchestra’s brass section. Wiebe dedicated the performance to the late Essex County bluesman, Johnny “V” Mills, who died last week at the age of 59.
Wiebe’s own arrangement of Gerswhin’s Fascinatin’ Rhythm, renamed Fascinatin’ Variations, was a highlight of the first half. The work for strnigs featured solos from Lillian Scheirich, Michele Dumoulin, Greg Sheldon, Gordon Cleland, and Roman Kosarev.
Trombonist Mike Stone and clarinetist Lisa Raschiatore shared the spotlight in Satin Doll, while Jean-Francois Rompre was featured in a jazz arrangement of Bach’s Badinerie. The Wiebe arrangement was reminiscent of Moe Koffman’s Bach transcriptions once used as the theme music for CBC’s As It Happens.
Towards the end of the first half, the Capitol Quartet marched on from the rear of the theatre to the strains of Sweet Georgia Brown.
The four players are all masters of their instruments, and all university professors from various parts of the U.S.
Dressed like cool cats in blue Zoot suits for part two, they played a selection of big band classics and rearranged classical melodies.
The group consists of soprano Christopher Creviston, alto Joseph Lulloff, tenor David Stambler, and baritone Andrew Dahlke.
Each had his moment to strut his stuff.
Highlighting the set was the lovely ballad, Smiles and Smiles to Go, performed with the lush backing of the orchestra, and the rousing medley at the end consisting of famous swing tunes by Count Basie, Glenn Miller and others.
The choruses by the group were resonant, precise and mellifluous, and the solos carefully balanced. This is music-making that old Belgian Sax would never have imagined.