The Marine Jazz Combo and Big Band holiday performance at 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 14, is sure to make the audience kick up their heels and “boogie-woogie” along in their seats to a program full of spirit, nostalgia, and swinging beats.
The concert is coordinated by trumpet player Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Orban and he originally planned to program music from all of his favorite Christmas movies. But the idea proved to be too daunting so he narrowed it down to selections from his and guitar player Gunnery Sgt. Alan Prather’s favorite holiday movie of all time, “White Christmas.” “I had ‘White Christmas’ on loop this summer while I re-painted every room in my house,” Orban said. “It’s timeless.” Just last week he was inspired by an English swing band to shake up Danny Kaye’s a capella rendition of the title track. “The jazz combo starts it off very tenderly, just the way Danny Kaye sings it,” Orban said. “And then, surprise! Before you know it, the song takes a decidedly different turn. I don’t want to give it away just yet but suffice it to say, it will be difficult for anyone to sit still.”
The holiday soundtrack continues with the Marine Big Band and its be-bop, swing, and bossa nova renditions of other such holiday favorites as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Yo, Tannenbaum,” and “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”
The second half of the concert is entirely dedicated to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s toe-tapping and unconventional setting of Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite.” According to Anna Harwell Celenza, professor of music at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., “Duke and Billy, inspired by their travels and by musical styles past and present, infused the work with Vegas glitz, Hollywood glamour, and even a little New York jazz.”
Orban’s excitement about the program is infectious. “You just never know what’s going to happen when someone’s improvising jazz,” he said. “All of the inspiration is happening right there in front of the audience. We’re having a shared experience with the patrons that is very connected and spontaneous and it brings us musicians to another level. These up-tempo songs will create a great energy.”
The concert is free, tickets are not required, and will take place in the John Philip Sousa Band Hall at the Marine Barracks Annex at the corner of 7th
and K Streets in Southeast Washington, D.C. Free parking is available on 7th
Street under the overpass.
Directions and parking