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Big Band more than 30s swing
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 23 février 2012

Courtesy photo

Professor Ron Di Lauro directs the Université de Montréal Big Band.

Big Band music is more than just 1930s swing and Glenn Miller hits, and Ron Di Lauro, with his group of Université de Montréal (UdeM) students, is out to prove it. The trumpet professor has prepared a diverse mix of well-known jazz hits with brand new compositions for a Feb. 29 concert at the Segal Centre.

The concert will provide “a taste of the classic writers and the ‘pop music’ of the 30s,” he confirms, while providing exposure for contemporary composers such as Darcy James Argue.

Di Lauro wants to ensure that students gain experience playing the recognizable tunes they’ll need to know as professional musicians, while also being challenged with new, groundbreaking creations.

“The general public associates Big Band music with [artists like] Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra, lots of vocal stuff,” Di Lauro explains. “We’ll be playing music from the development of Big Band through time,” including compositions by recently deceased Bob Brookmeyer and Brookmeyer’s renowned protégée Maria Schneider, along with some Count Basie favourites. Student Maxime Blackburn will also present one of his compositions at the show.

These extracurricular concerts are important, says the professor, since they “make the public aware of what’s happening at the student level without needing to come to the school,” and the students “always enjoy performing with school groups outside of school.”

The UdeM jazz combos have played at the intimate Plateau venue Dièse Onze every Tuesday in February and plan to continue a similar run in November.

A passionate pedagogue, Di Lauro is pleased with a new program at UdeM that assigns a composition student to a particular ensemble, so that they may develop their writing and arrangement skills for that particular instrumentation.

Di Lauro has brought music to the Segal Centre before, most recently for the Power Jazz series in October 2011, when he played a tribute to Miles Davis’ classic album Kind of Blue with his sextet. “I really like the Segal Centre, and the people who work there,” he enthuses. “I definitely plan for something there each year.”

The UdeM Big Band plays the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts Studio on Feb. 29 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $15.

[ Ingrid Wissink ]

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