02/23/12 By Bruce Pulver
CONCERT PREVIEW – Coming home again – Jazz Pianist and Composer, Ted Howe returns to Atlanta to perform his “Suite for Jazz Orchestra” on March 9th, 2012, 8pm in Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe University
From the early 1970’s to just a few years ago, Mr. Howe was an Atlanta jazz ICON. From his private piano studio, he taught countless students the lessons in Jazz. Kevin Bales, former student, Georgia State University faculty member and current pianist with vocalist Rene Marie, recalls his days as a student. “I did not have the money for weekly lessons. When I had saved enough for one session, Ted would give me an hour lesson and fill my notebook with six months of work to do. I would go home work on it, save more money and come back for another lesson six months later. He made it work for me. I am grateful to Ted for helping me achieve many of my musical goals and enjoy the opportunities I have in music.”
Besides teaching, Howe maintained an exhausting schedule with his small groups and big band as a one of the top performers on the jazz scene. Anyone you ask from Atlanta during that time would say Ted or one of his students was a likely performer in any jazz performance held around the city. Howe quickly became the A-list, first call pianist in town. In fact, Mel Torme refused to perform in Atlanta without Ted Howe on the keys
Mr. Howe joined the faculty of Atlanta’s Georgia State University (GSU) where he was instrumental in developing its first jazz degree program. GSU has prospered and boasts many great musicians on the global scene today as alumni.
After all these years in Atlanta, Mr. Howe made a decision to move west to Los Angeles which is now home, but the experiences of Atlanta remain fresh and bright.
Easily making the case for returning to Atlanta to premiere “Suite for Jazz Orchestra”
“When Brent Runnels, Executive Director of Jazz Orchestra Atlanta (JOA) and I talked last year, I told him I had composed “Suite for Jazz Orchestra” several years ago but had never performed it publically. I was searching for the right situation to premiere it” says Howe. “Mr. Runnels asked what I thought about returning to Atlanta for a concert with his orchestra. I knew of Jazz Orchestra Atlanta. It is a well respected concert and repertory performance jazz orchestra made up of the finest young musicians in the city. JOA has the right focus. It plays concert-oriented works which require great attention to the composer’s detail, has great reading skills, its members can double on many instruments, it has an ensemble unity and the ability to swing. I was looking for these key characteristics and the opportunity to come back to perform in Atlanta also sounded great to me.”
“Jazz Orchestra Atlanta is excited to be performing with the legendary Ted Howe to premiere his “Suite for Jazz Orchestra” says Runnels. “Mr. Howe’s long standing contributions to the Atlanta music community is well documented. To have Jazz Orchestra Atlanta be part of this legacy is an honor.”
So what about the “Suite for Jazz Orchestra”
“My musical criteria and mission for writing this Suite were to accomplish all of the following” says Howe. "I wanted to base it solely upon (1) four measure theme, write it using all of the time signatures usually used in jazz music, use all the various mutes available, including real felt derby’s, in the brass section. Additionally, I wanted to use all the usual instrument doubles (especially in the reed section) and incorporate as many rhythmic feels we use in jazz as possible including swing, Latin, funk and others. Finally, I wanted to produce very different sounds from this ensemble by utilizing all the wonderful knowledge my late friend Herb Pomeroy kindly shared with me.
“Suite for Jazz Orchestra” is a 20 minute piece written for the following instrumentation: Three Trumpets, doubling Flugelhorn, Two Trombones, Alto Sax, doubling Soprano Sax, Flute, Piccolo, and Clarinet Tenor Sax, doubling Clarinet, Baritone Sax, doubling Bass Clarinet, Piano, doubling Rhodes Electric Piano, Guitar, Bass, Doubling Electric Bass, Drums and Percussion
Howe has dedicated “Suite for Jazz Orchestra" the late Herb Pomeroy who was a long time teacher,compositional mentor and friend. The legendary trumpeter, arranger, and founding professor at Boston’s esteemed Berklee College of Music had a major influence on Howe as a musician and educator
As an added treat to the March 9th performance, four other original works by Mr. Howe will be performed to round out the evening’s performance.
More information and tickets at:
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