Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bobby Troup

Bobby Troup, was an American actor, jazz pianist, singer and songwriter. He is best known for writing the popular standard "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66", and for his role as Dr. Joe Early, opposite his real-life wife Julie London's character, in the 1970s US TV seriesEmergency!

Troup was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics.He was a member of the Mask and Wig Club, a famous collegiate all male comedy sketch group.
Sammy Kaye and His Orchestra recorded "Daddy", which was number one for 8 weeks on the Billboard Best Seller chart and the number five record of 1941; other artists also recorded it in 1941, including Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, The Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby and Kay Kyser.

In 1941 he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He was assigned as one of two dozen white officers to direct recruit training at Montford Point, a recruit depot for the first African-American Marines.

He had many song, TV, and movie credits throughout his life. 

LCA will be performing an a cappella arrangement of his song "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring." 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Somewhere, You'll Find Me

Few pieces of music have become as iconic as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Judy Garland's performance of this short piece in The Wizard of Oz is part of the American Songbook fabric.

 Pop, Jazz, and Classical musicians, from vocalists to cellists, orchestras and punk rock bands, have covered this song. There is both an ease and a tension in this song. Musically, the opening intervals of the title phrase - a octave followed by a half step down - sets us up with a sense of hope and a little nervousness. The text is immediately a question inside of a beautiful scene-setting statement, "Somewhere over the rainbow way up high." We are "dare[d] to dream" and wish for a world that is better and safer than our current circumstances.

I keep referring to we even though the lyrics clearly saw "me" and "I." I think this song has left the confines of one song, about, or even sung by, one little Kansas girl. In fact, Lincoln Choral Artists will before performing this as a Choral piece, many voices singing as one.

Teena Chinn's arrangement is beautiful. It includes some Jazz chords and close harmonies that tug at the confined nature of the melody after the initial leap of the opening octave. The accompaniment delicately colors and enhances the voices. I am very excited to rehearse and perform this arrangement on March 3. Please join us as we sing about a world we are all in need of...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Swinging Bach- Doing a new "JAZZ" standand

As a part of the upcoming Crooners Over Lincoln Gala on March 3  
we are doing what I considered to be a "New" vocal Jazz Standard. The irony of this is that both the actual music, the longevity, and the popularity of the version we are performing, Bach's Fugue in G minor or the "Little" fugue, was originally composed in 1722. The arrangement for this upcoming concert came out of performances done in an acappella jazz vocal style by the Swingle Singers in the 1960s and 70s. So this isn't brand new music, but it is framed in a style that many crooners of the 1940s and 50s modeled. 
Jazz influence on popular music in the 40s and 50s cannot be denied. What is so incredible about Bach's Little Fugue, before it is ever adapted for by Ward Swingle and the Swingle Singers, is that the music already "swings." The Swingle Singers made this discovery in the early years of the ensemble when they would use Bach' Well-tempered Clavier as a warm up for acappella singing. At this point they were not even "swinging" the eighth notes.

I think the musical genius of Bach and the incredible musicality of the Swingle Singers combine to create and iconic "New" jazz sound. 

I am so excited to perform this piece with the the LCA singers! Tonight we have rehearsal 2 on this piece and many others influenced and informed by the era of "Crooners." We are going to swing it!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

It's a New Year, Mid Season Auditions, Gala preparations

Happy New Year! Tonight LCA returns to regular rehearsals. I am always very excited about the beginning of a new concert cycle. We are really doing some fun music for the Crooners Over Lincoln concert on March 3.

This is a concert focused on 40s and 50s Jazz and pop styles. Some included titles are "The Little Organ Fugue" by Bach in the style of the Swingle Singers, "Over the Rainbow", and the "Java Jive."

I will be talking about many more of the details of this concert in upcoming posts. But today I wanted to talk a little about Mid-season auditions.

I love meeting singers in the audition process. Once we both get past the initial nervousness of meeting each other and I get a chance to learn about them as people and hear their voices, I am always excited to get them on board and singing with the group. Personality definitely influences the voice. It is not a determining factor in good singing, but more a person's personality is often reflected in their singing voice. This, I think, is true even in the "Unexpected Voice", the person who surprises me with their tone, color, or ability. Somewhere in their personae that voice lives. And when all the voices of this choir come together, and all the personalities join in singing, that's when the glory of choral music happens. The music has to be of good quality, but more importantly, people influence the performance in a positive way that creates a group personality unique to each ensemble.

I am very excited to start new music tonight. I am excited to hear new singers over the next few weeks as we have Mid-season auditions.
But mostly I'm excited to work with these personalities, these individual voices, to become one choir!