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Tomaro, Jones trumpet tunes of the silver screen

| Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 5:57 p.m.
Martha Rial
Sean Jones plays at the August Wilson Center.

Mike Tomaro and Sean Jones see distinct advantages to performing jazz that has played a role in the movies.

For Tomaro, it is a simple way to come up with a “jazz-concert idea that is commercially viable.”

For Jones, it shows how jazz is part of the “American musical diaspora.”

Whatever the reason, the two are certain the “Jazz in Film” concert April 19 at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild will be a hit.

New and classic arrangements of jazz-inspired music from movies will be performed by the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, the big band the two of them lead.

Many of the arrangements will be originals by Tomaro, the director of jazz studies at Duquesne University.

But some of them will be film classics of their own, such as music from Duke Ellington's famous “Anatomy of a Murder.”

Trumpeter Jones, who also teaches at Duquesne, has a hard time choosing what he likes best.

“Well, all of it,” he says when asked his favorite.

Both realize this kind of concert is a little removed from the image the orchestra has been casting with original material, as well as some challenging tunes from other big bands.

“We want to use this as a way to expand our horizon and to let people see what we are capable of,” Jones says.

Tomaro says it has another benefit, too. “These guys are always looking for a reason to play together, so it gives us a reason to have another concert,” he says.

For Tomaro, the concert has a familiar feeling. In 2012, he put together a similar “Jazz in Movies” program for the Duquesne Jazz Ensemble. Last November, he led a Jones-less Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra in a look at the “Great American Songbook: Then and Now” in a benefit concert at Duquesne for which he wrote a night of arrangements.

This concert, he says, will let him explore the influence of jazz in film in three ways: scores by classic jazz figures such as Duke Ellington; jazz-influenced music by people not generally connected with the genre such as John Williams and his “Catch Me If You Can”; and movie music that has become jazz standards such as “Laura.”

He also has come up with some less-remembered music, such as material from Andre Previn's score for “The Subterraneans” and from the original version of “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” from 1975. He says he also will throw in “Goldfinger” from the James Bond film.

Jones says he is excited at Tomaro's concert-planning task.

“It will be good to see what Mike has in store,” Jones says.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bkarlovits@tribweb.com or 412-320-7852.

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