| AandE

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Tomaro, once skeptical, now jazzed about the Beatles

Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Mike Tomaro, director of jazz studies at Duquesne University Credit: Justin Merriman

‘The Music of the Beatles'

When: 8 p.m. March 14

Admission: $10

Where: Dr. Thomas D. Pappert Center for Performance and Innovation, Duquesne University

Details: 412-396-6083 or

Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Mike Tomaro has become a believer in the Beatles.

“I have been a typical jazz snob as far as the Beatles are concerned,” says the director of jazz studies at Duquesne University. “Like most jazz people, I didn't like them because we thought they were ruining pop music by getting people to listen to things other than jazz.”

But the Fab Four frenzy of his daughters — Natalie, 16, and Andrea, 13 — has opened his mind to their music. That new-found appreciation has led him to focus on “The Music of the Beatles” for the annual concert of the school's jazz ensemble March 14 on campus.

He admits he is open mostly to their music from “Rubber Soul,” “Revolver” and beyond. That stretch is when many see the Beatles turning from pop moptops to actual music men.

The concert will feature new Tomaro arrangements, as well as some faculty members of the school: singer Maureen Budway, guitarists Bill Purse, Mark Koch and Ken Karsh, and trombonist Ed Kocher, the music dean.

Tomaro says the music fits the skills of those faculty members well. It allows him to combine “Please, Please Me” and “Can't Buy Me Love” in an arrangement, provides “She's Leaving Home” as a vocal vehicle for Budway, and offers Karsh a medley of “I Follow the Sun” and “Here Comes the Sun.”

The concert also will feature Natalie and Andrea Tomaro, who will act as hostesses.

“I've been working with them on their job, because they could talk forever on the Beatles if they get a chance,” Tomaro says with a laugh.

His study of the Beatles has led to a major change in his thinking.

“There is some music I consider sacred,” he says. “Like Billy Strayhorn's. But now I feel the same about the Beatles.”

He says he sees many uses of odd meters and clever harmonics in the works of the post- “Rubber Soul” Beatles. Many of those fit structures that are comfortable to him as a jazz arranger, but he says this concert will not be a “jazz meets the Beatles.”

He is planning on such a show as a sequel, but he wants this show to be more about a new way to look at some well-known songs. For the ensemble's students, it will illustrate a commercial way to play music. For listeners, it will present a different way to listen to those songs.

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

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Music

  1. Timeless Moody Blues make stop at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall
  2. Big names highlight Three Rivers Arts Festival’s 2015 musical lineup
  3. Jazz Appreciation Month kicks off in Pittsburgh on a new note
  4. Neil Diamond still on ‘Melody Road’ at 74
  5. Bach concert in Shadyside celebrates devotion for Good Friday
  6. Singer Joni Mitchell hospitalized in Los Angeles
  7. Hard Rain goes ‘Deep in the Shadows’ for new release
  8. 3 venues making Dormont the place to be for live music
  9. Orozco-Estrada to debut with Pittsburgh Symphony
  10. Julius Eastman’s music gains new life at Carnegie Museum
  11. Perfume Genius makes sweet sounds, sometimes from sad