Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hamilton Concert Band: Sounds of Love

The Hamilton Concert Band (HCB) and the Jimmy Stahl Big Band, joined by vocalist Loralee McGuirl, put together a special Valentines Day concert last Sunday, February 12th at St. Andrew’s United Church. Sounds of Love was the third concert in the HCB’s annual series, with the 34-member ensemble sounding as good as ever. Joanne Romano, the HCB’s assistant conductor, stood in for Bobby Herriott, and Jimmy Stahl conducted his 18 piece big band. Chad Benning, HCB president, was the master of ceremonies.

The first four concert band selections displayed the talents of several band members. Dominic Ferrelli started things off with a simple and uplifting flute melody in A Stroll in the Park. The Overture from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro nicely captured a playful spirit of anticipation, with the piccolo and oboe giving brilliance and clarity to the running passages. Good blend, intonation and balance between sections was evident throughout; a pleasant surprise. Send in the Clowns featured the horn section, and Jimmy Stahl’s control on the flugelhorn was displayed in fine form on Rogers and Hart’s My Funny Valentine.

Excitement increased when Jimmy Stahl’s rhythm section kicked into an arrangement of Henry Mancini’s Peter Gunn, although I was slightly disappointed by the unconvincing keyboard sound. Good burn from the brass, and although some comments were overheard about the room being “loud,” this listener didn’t mind at all. Nice solo work was heard throughout the next six pieces, confirming Jimmy’s remark that capable soloists sit in almost every chair of his band. There is a visibly positive rapport between the band and their leader, who has dedicated himself to pursuing commercial trumpet work and band leading in the Hamilton area since his high school days.

Loralee McGuirl very comfortably fronted the big band as she sang Over the Rainbow, her voice rich and expressive in this touching melody. The big dynamic swells and reharmonizations of this arrangement didn’t suit the lyrical and traditionally reflective nature of this simple song; nevertheless, McGuirl held her own throughout.

The band settled into a great groove in Moondance. George Behr treated us to a lovely trombone solo in My One and Only Love. Following that McGuirl, now fully warmed up, let her seemingly limitless range soar in Georgia and His Eye Is On The Sparrow. I overheard audience members say, “Incredible,” and “I’ve got goose bumps.” Later in the show we were treated to an equally exciting rendition of Swing Low, as the grinding groove of the band was balanced perfectly by McGuirl’s soaring soprano. She is a versatile powerhouse; a good match for this exuberant big band.

To finish up, Joanne Romano’s confident conducting kept Sinatra In Concert moving, and she was able to bring out a good degree of dynamic expression throughout. - GB

Loralee McGuirl is a Hamilton based singer, known for her versatile voice and adventurous repertoire, which spans such divergent genres as jazz, blues, rock, gospel, show tunes and opera. A thoroughly engaging and polished performer, Loralee has captivated audiences time and again with her soaring range, vocal agility and emotionally evocative improvisational technique.


No comments: