By Lucie Roy
Morinville – Jazz music with a Christmas theme was featured by the River City Big Band at the Morinville Community Cultural Center Dec. 17. Approximately 100 people came out for the evening show.The narration by the Master of Ceremonies, Colin MacLean, brought stories to life of music and songs through the age and was fitting with the 100th anniversary celebrations in Morinville. The 17-piece big band under the Musical Direction of Larry Schrum also featured vocals by Chandelle Rimmer.
The program was put together by Larry Schrum, who selected the best of the jazz-oriented Christmas music and re-arranged many pieces. The arrangements on Saturday night were based on originals for Diana Krall, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, BB King and others, but were reconfigured for the band by Schrum and eminent composer, arranger and trumpet virtuoso Allan Gilliland.
The music of O Holy Night featured the band and Doug Zimmerman on trumpet. The song was originally written for trumpet player Wayne Bergeron and the last two selections were arranged by Tom Kubis the former staff arranger of the 1950s US Air Force Band known as the Airmen of Note. In his narration MacLean included history notes of the song. On December 24, 1906, Reginald Fessenden, the Canadian McLean said really invented radio but never got the credit for it; broadcast the first AM radio program, which included him playing “O Holy Night” on the violin. The carol appears to have been the first piece of music ever to be broadcast on radio, said MacLean.
Chandelle Rimmer, with two decades of fine-tuned swinging experience sang, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let it Snow, a song from 1945, My Grown Up Christmas, a song from 1990, and vocalist Mel Torme’s 1944 The Christmas Song. Rimmer also sang Joni Mitchell’s River and Christmas Is My Favourite Time of the Year, the latter written by Kenny Rogers. In 1970 Joni Mitchell penned the song River when the Saskatchewan native was in Southern California thinking of her snowy home land.
In the year 1602, in the time of William Shakespeare, the song What Child Is This, was already a popular song in England and 250 years later, William Dix borrowed it and wrote some new Christmas lyrics. This piece of music was performed Saturday night by Brian Driscoll on sax.
River City Big Band Trumpeters Doug Zimmerman and Joedy Missal performed their take on the Louis Armstrong Cool Yule with much applause from the audience.
The song Silent Night, came from St. Nicholas Church in Oderdorf, Germany in December 1818 by a pastor named Joseph Mohr. He asked the organist Franz Gruber to write a melody for the poem Mohr had written. It was Christmas Eve and the organ was broken so Mohr strummed it on his guitar and the two men sang Stille Nacht.
MacLean said, “The best Christmas carols, the best music of the season seem to possess an undeniable quality. Their common traits are joy and simplicity, emotions that are quickly understood.”
The band received a standing ovation after their performance and willingly shared their stories and love of the music world. Some of the band members are professional musicians and others are in other career pursuits and businesses professions.