About Jazz Port Townsend Festival

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The name of the event that I decided to write my concert report is the Centrum All-Star Big Band. The concert took place at the Centrum’s annual Jazz Port Townsend Festival in Port Townsend Washington in 2018. The music was selected and arranged by David Marriott Jr and Thomas Marriott. There were seventeen different performers in the All-Star Big Band. Some of the performers were Michael Brockman, Alex Dugdale, Jiggs Whigham, David Marriott Jr., and Terell Stafford. Jazz Port Townsend has emerged as one of the leading jazz festivals in the nation. The Centrum All-Star Big Band played covers of popular jazz songs, which included, Stella By Starlight, “Tain’t What You Do, and Captain Bill. They also performed original songs like Little Frances, which was written by Thomas Marriott, who was one of the trumpet players in the band. A big band is a type of musical ensemble that usually consists of ten or more musicians with four sections: saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and a rhythm section. In this ensemble, there are 5 saxophones, 5 trombones, 4 trumpets, a guitar, a piano, a bass, and drums. If I had to describe this style of music I would have to say it is swing. These songs would be considered swing style because swing is linked to big bands. Every piece played at the concert was loud, there were very few parts of the concert that were considered soft. Most swing songs have primarily written arrangements with clearly defined solo sections, and that was prevalent in every one of the pieces performed.

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Throughout the songs, there were one, if not more, predetermined solos. After each solo, the whole band would join in continuing with the soloist. There was also no collective improvisation in these pieces, rather there were clearly defined solos dependent on the song. Another reason I believe these styles of songs to be swing because throughout the solos there is a noticeable background riff. While the one jazz musician is playing his/her solo the other musicians are playing quickly along with the soloist. The bottom line is that each song was played upbeat and lively, therefore I believe the style of jazz for this concert was swing. After listening to the performance by the Centrum All-Star Big Band I was impressed with how much I enjoyed the performance. The one aspect of the performance that I really enjoyed was the fast tempo of the all songs, along with the change of timbre throughout each song. I also liked the ensemble, which was the big band, because it allowed me to hear multiple instruments. I think the style of swing is one style that I appreciate the most because it has everything I want; it has the solos with a soft background riff, it has the call and responses from musician to musician, and it has the lively and upbeat tempo when the whole big band plays together. I was never big into jazz music and I thought I would be bored listening to this concert, but after taking the time to listen to it I was impressed with how much I enjoyed the jazz they played.

For me, it helped that the songs they played were upbeat and lively because it kept me interested and made me want to dance along. Overall, I enjoyed listening to the music and I would listen to this type of jazz in the future. Taint what you do was my favorite piece in this concert for many different reasons. First, I really enjoyed the riff that they began the song with. Hearing all the instruments playing together along with the drums was a great way to open. I was able to hear the trombones at the beginning of the song, which was the main reason why I liked this piece. At minute 25:25 I liked how the band got soft and quiet before the vocalist started signing his part. It was a calming transition that really caught my attention. Once the vocalist started singing with the band I instantly knew this was my favorite piece. I enjoy the instruments playing by themselves, but I really liked hearing the vocalist sing with the musicians playing in the background. After the first verse of singing the song transitions into a trumpet solo. The main reason I was interested in this solo was that the musician used a plunger mute to change his timbre. The way he changed his timbre by using the plunger mute was very impressive and really caught my eye. Being able to see a talented musician use a plunger to change the sound was impressive. I enjoyed all the pieces in this concert but Taint what you do was by far my favorite.

The musical aspect of the piece that I liked was the overall style of music that was played. The up-tempo swing songs were captivating and enjoyable to listen to. Throughout the different tracks, the musicians were able to change their timbre and it was impressive to see how they could manipulate their sound from track to track. This was very noticeable when there was a solo. If there was one part of the piece that I did not like it would have been all the solos. I know that most big band enables have a lot of solos, but I really enjoy when all the different instruments are playing together. I would have also liked to see more call and responses throughout the piece. There were some throughout, but I would have liked to see more. This piece fits into the lineage of jazz history because it was the style of the big bands. The big bands were popular in the 1930s and this was the set up they used then. It was the time when jazz was transitioning into more lively music that people could dance to. The Great Depression was during this time and the swing music counteracted the sadness and despair people were feeling. Big bands played upbeat pieced where people could have improvised dances.

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About Jazz Port Townsend Festival. (2020, Mar 10). Retrieved December 2, 2022 , from

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