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United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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The Marine Jazz Orchestra Performs Re-Imagined Favorites

By Master Sgt Kristin duBois | United States Marine Band | February 27, 2017


The Marine Jazz Orchestra will return to the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 5 for a performance of music that has been shaped by arrangers, choreographers, conductors, commissioners, and even painters. These selections continue to morph and evolve in the hands and minds of newer artists, making what’s old new again. Conductor and Assistant Director Capt. Ryan J. Nowlin explained, “Trumpeter Clark Terry said of his longtime bandmaster Duke Ellington, ‘He wants life and music to be in a state of becoming … he doesn’t even like to write definitive endings to a piece.’ This program features the Marine Jazz Orchestra’s take on four works which have long been in a ‘state of becoming:’ Leonard Bernstein’s Three Dance Variations from Fancy Free; Chick Corea’s Spain (Revisited); Ellington’s Black, Brown, and Beige; and Sammy Nestico’s arrangement A Swingphonic Collection.” 

Now considered by many to be a jazz standard, Corea’s Spain first gained popularity on the 1973 album “Light as a Feather.” The original version of the tune begins with a quote from the slow movement of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar soloist with orchestra. Since then, Spain has been re-imagined in a flamenco version, in a bluegrass style, and as a piano duo. In 2001 Corea won the Grammy Award for “Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Capella” for his Spain for Sextet and Orchestra which juxtaposes the symphonic sound of the London Philharmonic Orchestra with a jazz combo of flute/tenor sax, soprano sax, bass, drums, trombone, and Corea himself on piano. Corea re-arranged Spain frequently to keep it not only fresh for the audience, but for his band, as well. “The constant challenge is not so much the creative process, but the challenge of presenting an idea to the public,” he said in an interview with The Atlantic. “It’s a constant challenge to get your arrangement and musical expression across to a new audience, especially when you’re playing live every night, like we are.” 

The Marine Jazz Orchestra will put its own spin on the orchestral version with a jazz combo featuring saxophone, trumpet, double bass, vibraphone, drums and piano soloist Gunnery Sgt. AnnaMaria Mottola. The new arrangement was written by Mike Crotty, former long-time composer and arranger for the Airmen of Note, the premier jazz ensemble of the U.S. Air Force, and former member of the jazz faculty at Arizona State University, where he taught Mottola, then a young jazz student. “This is definitely one of Chick’s most recognizable tunes,” Mottola said. “What I like is that it’s Latin jazz fusion on a jazz orchestra program, with solo sections, interplay, and improvising. It pushes the envelope of what people might expect.”

Corea was in good company when Spain won the Grammy. His fellow nominee was former Airmen of Note and Marine Band arranger Sammy Nestico and his arrangement of“Good ‘Swing’ Wenceslas” with the Count Basie Orchestra. Despite his nearly 600 works for school groups and big bands, 70 television shows, and eight Grammy nominations, Nestico is perhaps most famous for his work with the Count Basie Orchestra. It was these Count Basie arrangements that Wayne Marshall of the Dresden Philharmonic originally requested when he asked Nestico to collaborate for a joint project with the Dresden Philharmonic and the Southwest German Radio Big Band in 2012. Nestico countered with an alternate subject matter that he thought would have more variety, an arrangement of the great jazz standards of American history he called A Swingphonic Collection: “April in Paris” (Duke Ellington), “Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Chelsea Bridge” (Billy Strayhorn), “Cherokee” (Ray Noble), “Stardust” (Hoagy Carmichael), “A Night in Tunisia” (Dizzy Gillespie), and “How High the Moon” (Morgan Lewis). The Collection is sure leave the audience with a “swing” in their step. The Collection is sure to leave the audience with a “swing” in their step.

The concert is free, tickets are not required. The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center is located at 4915 East Campus Drive at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria campus.

Complete program and notes

Directions and parking

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