Musical Club of Hartford

New England Jazz Ensemble's Peter and the Wolf - Oct 28, 2015

The New England Jazz Ensemble will take the wraps off a new big-band arrangement of Peter and the Wolf in a special concert at Conard High School, 110 Beechwood Road, West Hartford, at 10:00 am on Wednesday, October 28, 2015.

The concert features Walt Gwardyak’s arrangement of Prokofiev’s classic story, the first big-band adaptation in more than 50 years. Gwardyak is a founder and the music director of the New England Jazz Ensemble, which was formed more than 20 years ago to profile the compositions and arrangements of jazz musicians in the region. The NEJE has received accolades for their earlier interpretation and presentation of the Duke Ellington Jazz Nutcracker, and other recordings of original jazz arrangements and compositions.

Giacomo Gates, one of today’s most prominent jazz singers, has re-composed the spoken story in “hip” language, and will narrate behind the New England Jazz Ensemble’s musical performance. Jeff Holmes, lead trumpeter and one of the band’s principal arrangers, will conduct.

Presented in celebration of the Musical Club of Hartford’s 125 years of bringing great music to the state’s Capital city, this concert is presented in collaboration with the West Hartford Schools Arts Department.

A half-hour break for lunch will follow the New England Jazz Ensemble concert, after which the students in the Conard and Hall High School Jazz Bands will perform. Joining them will be a high-school jazz band visiting from Schorndorf, Germany. We hope you will be able to return to hear this concert as well.

As a special service to the community, these programs are free and open to the public.

Please note that this event takes place on a Wednesday.

New England Jazz Ensemble

nsuing years, most of which kept the overall concept but introduced changes to the story line. The first of these films was an animation produced by Walt Disney in 1946. Prokofiev himself was a consultant in the adaptation.

Many other artists and orchestras have adapted the popular music and the story line from Prokofiev’s original composition for everything from coloring books to a 1958 animation produced in Russia and a British television version for the Royal School Ballet. However, to the best of our knowledge, The New England Jazz Ensemble version is the only through-composed jazz rendition of the piece.

About the performers

The New England Jazz Ensemble was founded in June 1991, as a rehearsal band by its then-lead trumpeter Mike Jones and its pianist, music director, and arranger Walter Gwardyak. The New England Jazz Ensemble has recorded 5 CDs, including a live recording at the inaugural Pittsfield City Jazz Festival in 2005 and a Christmas CD featuring the Duke Ellington Nutcracker and other holiday jazz selections. Most of the recordings feature original arrangements and compositions by members of the ensemble, listed below.

Walter Gwardyak, piano, is a founding member and Music Director for the New England Jazz Ensemble, a sixteen-piece big band, which has received accolades for their presentation of Duke Ellington’s Jazz Nutcracker. He is a former member of the Buddy Rich band and has played in concert with such jazz greats as Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan, Pepper Adams and Clark Terry. He served as the Dean of Music at Hartford Conservatory of Music for 21 years, and is currently the jazz piano instructor at Trinity College, pianist at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, and staff arranger at the Hartford Symphony.

Giacomo Gates is a jazz singer with a full-bodied and mellifluous voice, extraordinary rhythmic precision and an unerring sense of lyricism, He has performed with such notables as Lou Donaldson, Freddie Hubbard, Richie Cole, Rufus Reid, Randy Brecker, and many other world-class performers. He has played major U.S. clubs such as New York's Birdland, Smoke, Jazz Standard, Blue Note, and Dizzy's, Blues Alley, The Kennedy Center in D.C., and Snug Harbor in New Orleans, and major festivals like Detroit/Montreux, Telluride, Caramoor, Sedona, Clearwater, and California's Jazz at the Plazz.

Jeffrey W. Holmes is Professor of Music and Director of Jazz and African-American Music Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is a nationally published and commissioned composer/arranger and multiple recipient of National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Composition Grants. Holmes has written music for John Abercrombie, The Big Apple Circus, Ernie Watts, Max Roach, Yusef Lateef, Doc Severinsen, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, as well as numerous works for military, college, high school/junior high school jazz, concert and marching ensembles.

The Hall High School Concert Jazz Band is an advanced level performance ensemble consisting of flute, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, string bass, drum set, and auxiliary percussion. Students develop knowledge and skill in ensemble balance, tone production, improvisation, sight-reading, jazz theory and jazz history as it pertains to the music that is being prepared and performed. The Concert Jazz Band performs at the annual Pops 'n Jazz show, school and community events, competitions, and a biennial European concert tour.

The Conard High School Concert Jazz Band consists of 18-22 talented instrumentalists selected by audition from over 190 band students at Conard High School. The Concert Jazz Band performs extensively throughout the year and sponsors three major jazz events at their school - Autumn Leaves Jazz Show, Winter Jazz Show, and Jazzamatazz. This group travels biannually and has traveled throughout the eastern part of the United States, California, Canada, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy, Scotland, Wales, and England.