Here is a link to my review of last night’s Nebraska Jazz Orchestra concert in the Lincoln Journal Star. Or read it here below…
Time travel still may be a thing of the future. But not Tuesday night at the Cornhusker Ballroom, where the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra smoothly transported a packed house back to the big band era.
It was an era when melody was king, solos were succinct and bandleaders had appetizing names like Hoagy and Jelly Roll.
For the second installment of their 2013-2014 season, the NJO featured two well-versed veterans in trumpeter Dean Haist and saxophonist Ed Love. After opening with two swing numbers, the band cooled on Ned Washington and Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You.” Haist, who throughout the night consistently answered the musical hurdles before him, began the song painting warm strokes on flugelhorn and, by its end, returned to his trademark trumpet.
Not to be upstaged, Love infused his alto saxophone with shimmering vibrato on Cole Porter’s “I Worship You.” Underneath him, a group of clarinets created a bright murmur, which slowly ceded into an elegant solo by pianist Tom Harvill. Next, guitarist Peter Bouffard dexterously opened the Chris Woods composition “Monsieur Lesbois in Paris,” quickly moving from octaves to notes a la Wes Montgomery.
Following a brief intermission, the retrospective moved forward, most notably on Duke Ellington’s “Concerto for Cootie.” Haist played with grit, until his face became the same color as the bright red plunger at the end of his trumpet. For his part, Love, who is equally skilled as an emcee, billed the next song, “Flute Salad,” as a chance for the trumpet section to “catch their breath.” “Play it twice,” Haist jested, drawing several good laughs.
To wrap up, the orchestra paid homage to Louis Prima with “Sing, Sing, Sing.” The infectious melody was an apropos closer. And for the final time of the night, Love grabbed the microphone: “There’s no encore. Dean’s lip is shot.”