Gill Harris and the Big Band Theory, featuring vocalist Denise Reid, will be in concert at Trotter Convention Center Feb. 21. Tickets are available at the Rosenzweig Arts Center. Photo by: Courtesy photo
February 9, 2014 12:33:31 AM
Gill Harris and the Big Band Theory will resurrect the lush harmonies of saxes, trombones, trumpets and a rhythm section at Trotter Convention Center in Columbus on Friday, Feb. 21. The sounds that first became so popular in the 1920s and '30s will begin at 7 p.m.
"We've got some really powerful talent," said Harris of Columbus, who has been putting bands together since the 1960s. "The band is largely made up of top professionals. About half of these are musicians who play coast to coast for artists like Wayne Newton, Natalie Cole and The Temptations." The other half of the band hails from Mississippi, and many of those hold PhDs in music. Denise Reid of Columbus is the featured vocalist. Special musical guests include Miss Mississippi and Roger Burlingame.
"We want you to hear this band," emphasized Harris.
The audience can anticipate a repertoire influenced by iconic band leaders like Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Count Basie and Stan Kenton.
Area musicians will include Dr. Rick Montalto of the Mississippi University for Women Department of Music and Dr. Michael Brown, Dr. Bob Damm and Dr. Clifton Taylor of the Mississippi State University Department of Music. Brown is conductor of the Starkville-MSU Symphony Orchestra and head of MSU's music department.
"To have a true big band outside a college campus is almost unheard of anymore," said Brown, who plays trumpet. "It should be exciting. The local players in the group are all the best in the area, and some of the musicians coming in I know of by reputation as being top flight. I'm looking forward to meeting them."
Harris said, "Cliff Taylor on trombone will be a featured soloist on a very special tune -- one that took me 10 years to get my hands on the arrangement." The song is "Poinsiana," by Nat Simon, with lyrics by Buddy Bernier. "It has a trombone quartet that will put chills on your back," said the band leader.
Harris himself began playing trumpet as a teenager in his school band and went on to play in the Army Band in Atlanta. Music wasn't his only focus. He studied civil engineering and moved to Columbus in 1962 to join Ceco Building Systems as the firm's director of engineering. Many of the 200 or so arrangements or charts for the classic big band numbers he treasures were discovered in music stores he visited while traveling for business.
On Feb. 21
The band will provide soft background instrumental ballads at 7 p.m. for dinner ambience before launching into a concert and dance near 8 p.m.
A dinner option is available; dinner tickets are $19 if purchased in advance. Dinner tickets at the door, if available, are $27.
Tickets for table seats are $30 in advance, or $35 at the door. Tables for up to eight people may be reserved in advance for $180. A cash bar with soft drinks, set-ups and ice will be open.
"We're asking that everybody comes at 7 p.m. whether you're dining or not, so you won't miss the music," urged Harris. "And feel free to dress as you please."
Purchase tickets at the Rosenzweig Arts Center, 501 Main St., Columbus, Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 662-328-2787 for more information.
The event is made possible in part by Cable One, Ceco Building Systems, Robert's Apothecary Ltd. and Trustmark.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.