Jones, jazz orchestra find new ways to wrap annual 'gift'
Sean Jones and the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra keep finding new and colorful ways of wrapping their Chrstmas gifts.
But, more importantly, they also make sure the gifts under that glitter are worthwhile.
The trumpeter and band Saturday evening did their annual Christmas concert, this on for the first time at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild on the North Side. Musical concerts such as performances of the “Nutcracker” ballet sometimes take on great significance as events to attend during the season, and Jones has said many times how he is trying to be that kind of show for the jazz fan.
He is succeeding. Each year's concerts have been different enough the listener is not getting the same present over and over.
Saturday's show presented musical gifts in a number of wrappings.
It offered some classic numbers such as “Dance of the Flowers” from Duke Ellington's version of the “Nutcracker,” Stan Kenton's version of “Angels We Have Heard on High” and Oliver Nelson's “Greensleeves.”
It provided the stage for great solo work, topped by Jones's own outings on “Jingle Bells” and “Joy to the World.” both knockout arrangements by alto saxophonist and band co-founder Mike Tomaro. On those, Jones dislayed many of the power of his play: great improrvisation skills, power and range.
The concert also was a scene for the singing of Maureen Budway, who offered “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Let It Snow” and “The Christmas Song” among others in her lovely, controllled soprano.
Through it all, the 17-piece band played with the cohesion and precision that has been always a sign of its significance. It is filled with great area players, such as bassist Paul Thompson, trombonist Jay Ashby, guitarist Marty Ashby, trumpeters Steve Hawk and James Moore and saxophonist Eric DeFade.
It generally is led on the floor by Tomaro and he skillfully guides it through arrangements that often use ensemble statements as backup to solos. This band always is a delight to watch and hear.
Besides functioning as an arranger, soloist and leader, Tomaro also offered a bit of comedy when he presented a hipster version of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” in a bebop-era beret and sunglasses accompanied by Jones's muted trumpet and the rhythm section.
This concert was a great Christmas gift, indeed.
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7852.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Bluegrass jam sessions bring out all types of musicians, fans
- Foo Fighters tour coming Aug. 25 to First Niagara Pavilion
- Jane Monheit swings in tribute to Judy Garland
- Young singer Salvant brings talent, not as much creativity to North Side shows
- Battlefield Band headlines annual Balmoral Classic in Oakland
- Review: ‘Mockingjay Part 1’ soundtrack leaves listeners sated
- Singer-songwriter Janis Ian takes pride in honesty of work
- Monheit brings the magic of Judy Garland to Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild
- ‘Music for the Spirit’ concerts among PSO director Honeck’s season favorites
- Ross native Jamison makes ‘The Voice’ Top 10
- Symphony’s ‘Music for the Spirit’ uplifts and exhilarates