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"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Concerts Feature Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald Medleys

By Gunnery Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali | United States Marine Band | July 17, 2017


This week the Marine Band’s summer concert series continues with a salute to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, two of the most legendary and influential figures in jazz. Conducted by Assistant Director Capt. Ryan J. Nowlin, the performances will take place at 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 19 and 8 p.m., Thursday, July 20 at the West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol.


Arranged by former Marine Band arranger Stephen Bulla, the Tribute to Louis Armstrong, featuring trumpet soloist Master Sgt. Daniel Orban, includes the jazz icon’s famous “West End Blues,” “Hotter than That,” “Struttin’ With Some Barbeque,” “Cornet Chop Suey,” “Skokiaan,” and “I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues.”


“I started listening to Louis Armstrong when I was 13 years old,” Orban said. “My grandma loved Louis Armstrong so she bought me a standard book and a Louis Armstrong album. Then she asked me to play her favorites, so I’ve been playing ‘Hotter than That’ since junior high.”


“Louis Armstrong used to come out with a big cadenza to grab everyone’s attention, so that’s how the medley begins. And he was famous for his high note trumpet solos and seemingly holding them forever, so that is also incorporated into the arrangement,” Orban explained. “He was a communicator. He talked through his horn. And when he played, he told stories. So my goal in playing this piece is to accurately represent the excitement Louis Armstrong conveyed while telling his stories.”


The Ella Fitzgerald Medley, featuring mezzo-soprano Gunnery Sgt. Sara Sheffield, was arranged by Marine Band arranger Staff Sgt. Scott Ninmer who incorporated several of her most famous hits, including “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” “Oh, Lady, Be Good!,” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).”


“I’ve always been a big fan of ‘A-Tisket, A-Tasket,’” Ninmer said. “One of the things I love about the jazz repertoire is that it can come from any source, including Broadway hits, Tin Pan Alley classics, spirituals, Latin dance music, and for this tune, a nursery rhyme! Ella’s original 1938 recording is such a fun piece, and the band’s interactions with her adds some great comedy to the mix.”


In addition to the Armstrong and Fitzgerald medleys, the program will include John Philip Sousa’s march “The Bride Elect,” one of the composer’s own favorites, referring to it as the best march he had ever written. The band will also perform Franz von Suppé’s Overture to Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Scene and Finale from The Gadfly, and Erika Svanoe’s Steampunk Suite.


When asked what the audience will love about the program, Nowlin said, “Hopefully everything! Von Suppé’s overture is a classic, but also considered an old ‘war horse’ in the band literature. Louis and Ella will be fun and recognizable and feature two fabulous soloists. Steampunk Suite is a fun work that depicts various scenes from a fictional alternate history exploring icons of the Victorian era, and The Gadfly is film music at its finest.”


The Marine Band will perform at 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 19 and 8 p.m., Thursday, July 20 both at the West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol. The concerts are free but weather permitting. Concert cancellations will be announced by 6 p.m. at (202) 433-4011 and www.facebook.com/marineband.


Complete program and notes

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