News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Hospice of the Western Reserve

Metro RTA

Lehmans


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Arts and Entertainment


Christmas and all that jazz in Cleveland's Playhouse Square
Holiday favorites transformed by the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN


Reporter
Vivian Goodman
 
The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra has been around for 31 years. It's supported by the Ohio Arts Council as well as a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. It will perform holiday music this weekend at Cleveland's historic Hanna Theater.
Courtesy of Susan Bestul
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

The drum roll leading up to Christmas will have a jazzy beat this weekend. Traditional Christmas classics will get a hip twist from the region’s jazz musicians and visitors, too. 

As WKSU’s Vivian Goodman reports, those well-known tunes provide an easy introduction to what some consider a difficult art form.

LISTEN: Upbeat for the holidays

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (5:30)


The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra’s Jack Schantz is glad Christmas time is here, for musical reasons. 

The trumpeter and flugelhornist looks forward to performances at this time of year with band leader, Paul Ferguson. 

“Paul’s written so many great arrangements of holiday music, and it’s always fun to revisit all that.”  

Ferguson promises the melodies at this weekend’s Cleveland Jazz Orchestra holiday concerts will be familiar. 

“But we transform all the tunes. It usually swings, but you might have straight eighth notes. You might do stuff as a ballad.”   

Recognizable and swinging
Ferguson directs jazz studies at Case Western Reserve University. The trombonist and composer/arranger is jazzing up classics like “Little Drummer Boy” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” this weekend along with the music of Vince Guaraldi. 

“I took some of the Peanuts Christmas music and rearranged it. This is very comforting to the audience. This way they hear a lot of stuff that they recognize."

The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra plays about six concerts a year in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square. 

That’s also where Grammy-nominated saxophonist Dave Koz ‘s Christmas Tour plays tonight at the Connor Palace Theater with vocalist Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers. 

Uptempo holiday weekend
And that’s not all the jazz in the region in the run up to the holidays. 

Tonight, Grammy-award-winning pianist Bill Cunliffe is in Akron. 

And composer/guitarist Brad Myer’s Quartet is at the Bop Stop on Cleveland’s west side. 

Paul Ferguson says there’s more jazz at the holidays but at any time of year there’s plenty of it in the region. 

“In Cleveland Heights we have Nighttown which has great jazz several nights a week.” 

Nighttown has been celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. 

“The Bop Stop has reopened on the west side. It now is operated by the Music School Settlement. And in Akron we have a place called BLU JAZZ. I performed there in February. An exceptionally fine jazz club.”  

The state of the art form
But Ferguson is realistic about the club scene. 

“Just like restaurants come and go jazz clubs come and go only faster.”    

The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra’s  Jack Schantz also directs Jazz Studies at the University of Akron. He says the region holds its own in the jazz world. 

“There’s great players everywhere. There’s a great scene in Pittsburgh; there’s a great scene in Columbus; there’s a great scene in Cincinnati. Not everybody is flocking to New York like they used to.”   

But not everybody’s flocking to hear jazz, either. 

“It’s never been a huge audience," says Schantz. "Harmonically, rhythmically, structurally it’s very complex, and it requires a pretty sophisticated listener to appreciate it.”   

Jazz evolution
Many consider the golden age of jazz was when Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong were pop stars. These days it’s more challenging, sophisticated, even academic, and more often heard in college classrooms than in smoky clubs. 

Paul Ferguson says young people really dig it, though, when they get a chance to hear and play it. 

He’s called on often to judge jazz festivals and finds quality often depends on whether parents can afford music lessons. 

“You don’t really get a whole lot of fine bands from like the Appalachian section of Ohio. But on the other hand, out in western Ohio I always remember a jazz festival out there in Defiance. Oh, exceptional bands out there. Maybe it’s just a community tradition. Where I live in Cleveland Heights right now, a very fine music program, also in Shaker Heights. So it’s part of the community ethos. The east side of Cleveland’s very artistic.”   

Easy listening
But no special training is required, he says, to open your ears to jazz at holiday time. 

“Our Christmas concert will have mostly tunes everyone knows. Other concerts we do you won’t know any of the music. But hang in there. Hopefully you’ll emerge from the experience better for it.”

(Click image for larger view.)

Listener Comments:

This was a superb article and I am so proud to serve on the Board of the CJO. Happy Holidays to all and enjoy the music!!!!!!

Bonnie Dick


Posted by: Bonnie Dick (Shaker Heights) on December 10, 2015 1:12AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Pluto: The Browns split from Manziel is long overdue
Get Brock Osweiler from the Denver Broncos! He's fantastic and seems like a great person.

Democratic Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld pushes for local gun control
That makes no sense at all... why not let cities determine driving codes as well? Maybe Cincy want's folks to drive on the left side of the road. What could go ...

Exploradio: Autism in the workplace
I would love to get more information re: Autism on The Town and other such programs in Northeast Ohio. Thanks!!

Human trafficking cases rise in Ohio
It is about time this is presented to proceed with a plan of prevention..to protect our youth.And very necessary to inform communities through school, churches ...

Fermented food company aims to preserve Cleveland's farm-to-table movement
This is terrific! I make my own sauerkraut and consider it vital to good health. Well done, I wish you all success.

Ohio doctors get new guidelines for prescribing certain painkillers
I would gladly smoke pot to get off pain killers but its not legal.It would save the hassle of doctor visits for pill counts,pee tests,blood tests,driving to pi...

Ohio unemployment cuts are nearing a Statehouse vote
What about those that are laid off seasonally? My husband has been employed by the same company for 26 years and has been laid off (for the last 17) mid-Januar...

Ban on microbeads is a big step in fighting plastic pollution
What a bunch of liberal "so open minded their brains fell out" tree huggin yuppies. Professing to be wise they became fools.

Who's on -- and left off -- Ohio's medical marijuana task force?
Biggest joke everm these people are evil they know marijuana is harmless they rigged the polls last nov everypne kmows it

Dayton 'Black Lives Matter' protesters to appear in court today
Police to fast with the trigger finger and not the brain.A lot of police officers out here judge by color first instead of accessing the situation first. If a p...

Copyright © 2017 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University