CD Release Concert - Kingswood Oxford School, 170 Kingswood Street, West Hartford, CT
New England Jazz Ensemble Celebrates CD Release of Peter and the Wolf with Concert on October 25
Called “the Definitive Jazz Rendition” of Prokofiev Classic,
Recording Marks the Ensemble’s Sixth CD
Release Bloomfield, CT - The New England Jazz Ensemble announced today that it will perform a CD release concert of the big band’s reinterpretation of Prokofiev’s iconic Peter and the Wolf on Thursday October 25, in West Hartford, Connecticut. The concert begins at 7:30pm, at the Roberts Theater Center, which is located on the grounds of the Kingswood Oxford School (170 Kingswood Street). Tickets are general admission for $10 and will be available at the door on the evening of the concert.
NEJE’s Capstone Jazz Project Creative Approach
Conceived several years ago and released in April of this year, the jazz Peter and the Wolf project was born on the heels of the group’s success with recording and performing the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn version of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. The main difference between the two projects is that Peter and the Wolf features the band’s own completely reimagined version of the full Prokofiev score, by arranger and NEJE music director and pianist Walter Gwardyak. It is the first big-band version of Peter and the Wolf in more than 50 years, and the first-ever with an original “hip” libretto, which was created and is narrated by vocalist Giacomo Gates.
Using over a dozen jazz styles to convey the 36-minute story, Gwardyak recruits various sections of the jazz ensemble or individual instruments to represent the story’s characters.
Whereas most incarnations of the work stick to the original script, the NEJE has taken another leap of creativity, engaging internationally-known jazz vocalist Giacomo Gates to create a hipster version of the narrative, which he delivers most captivatingly. The jazz version is true to the goals of the original work but also provides ample opportunity for the group’s capable
soloists to improvise and expand the personality of each character. The result is an engaging rendition, steeped in jazz excellence and traditions while simultaneously appealing to the novice listener.
To round out the CD, NEJE commissioned composer/arrangers John Mastroianni and Jeff Holmes to create new works inspired by the story of Peter and the Wolf. The results are four highly original and diverse works that showcase the exceptional compositional and performing talents of NEJE’s members. As Bea Willis wrote in 5FingerReview- “What makes this version so special, is the leap forward into the under-charted territory of jazz, adding the imagination of
Gates and the mastery of the Gwardyak’s arranging skills and the compositional acumen of Jeff Holmes and John Mastroianni, this might become the definitive jazz rendition that others look to in the coming years.”
Founded in 1991, not-for-profit New England Jazz Ensemble is a large jazz orchestra comprising regionally based artists. The group features original and contemporary jazz arrangements and compositions. Much of the band’s material is generated by the ensemble’s members. It is a performance group as well as a composer’s forum. The goals of the New England Jazz Ensemble are:
-To perpetuate the uniquely American large jazz ensemble as an art medium
-To encourage the writing of new work for large jazz ensemble
-To reach culturally diverse audiences and to educate the public about jazz
-To share the band’s wealth of expertise with the public in the form of concerts,
educational forums and programs, guest performances and recordings
-To support the opportunities for professional jazz artists to be employed in their specific
areas of expertise to maintain the integrity of the jazz community in our region.
The New England Jazz Ensemble is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
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Steven Bulmer, President
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