As you may recall, one of our biggest projects of 2013 was to record an EP and tour an XXL-sized version of the group called “The Beast + Big Band.” Besides the core quartet, the group featured nine of our closest string- and wind-playing friends, who also happen to be top-shelf North Carolina jazz and classical musicians.
This week, at Motorco, we are trying something new. We are letting a different ensemble learn and perform two Beast + Big Band charts with us merely as guest performers. I’m calling it “Beast Plus Big Band Junior Varsity” because this ensemble is made up almost entirely of high school musicians (!).
Beast fam, meet Durham Academy’s In The Pocket. From their school website, they describe themselves thusly:
Specializing in many different genres of 20th-century popular music — jazz and swing, rock and roll, R&B, funk, soul, disco, musical theatre, pop, bluegrass and country — In The Pocket does it all….As an educational endeavor, ITP is unique in its involvement of students and adults as virtual equals through the process of selecting repertoire, rehearsal, and production.
Sounds awesome right? Even better, their orchestration is verrry similar to the Big Band (similar number of saxes, flutes, strings). It was very easy for me (Eric) to redo some of the parts to accomodate ITP’s exact lineup. I’ve already had one rehearsal with them and as soon as I submit this post I’ll head back to the school for another one. Lemme tell you, it is freakin’ inspiring to work with talented, enthusiastic kids on making beautiful music together, especially 2014-Beast-alt-jazz-hip-hop music. Also – having three backup singers? Yes, please.
This Saturday at Motorco (see below for show details), I’ll conduct while Pierce raps, Pete and Steve help out on rhythm section – but all of the credit will go to the members of In The Pocket for nailing these two charts. SPOILER ALERT: We’re collaborating on “Blast Off” and “My People.”
Many thanks to Michael Meyer, music faculty at DA, director of ITP, and longtime friend of The Beast (also, my chorus teacher when I was still a student at Chapel Hill High School waaay back in the day) for inviting The Beast to this collaboration.
This might only be the Junior Varsity Big Band, but if we are ever in a pinch, we’ll know exactly who to call to fill out the A-team! A parting gift, last semester’s ITP concert featured a killin’ rendition of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine”