Welcome to The Club: NH Jazz Orchestra recreates the Big Band experience

If You Go

Welcome to the Club at the Rex Theatre

June 28, 7:30 p.m.

Welcome to the Club is a concert being presented by the NH Jazz Orchestra. This Keith Spiro photo shows the bound charts each musician will be using.

I was recently invited to listen in on and watch an early rehearsal of the Welcome to the Club show, performed by the NH Jazz Orchestra. Rehearsals were held at the Manchester Community Music School, the place where I take ukulele lessons.

The orchestra is directed by Clayton Poole, who goes by Skip, and his son, CJ Poole, who is the assistant director. Skip has over forty years of experience in working with big band groups. He has worked with Cab Calloway, Maynard Ferguson, Rosemary Clooney, and many others. CJ is the vocalist for this group but is also a bassist. He adds the component of being a younger person, who can inspire the next generation of musicians and Jazz performers.

Before the orchestra played as a group there were many different performers practicing chords or their parts of a song. There was a trumpet practicing in the left corner and the pianist was practicing chords. Skip kept on checking his watch and let people know how much time was left before they would rehearse as a group. When it was time to rehearse together, people sipped their water, turned to the correct page in their sheet music, and waited patiently for Skip to start directing them.

I have only performed in solo recitals so it was very interesting to see what it was like for a whole group of instruments playing together at the same time while trying to stay in sync with each other. Skip Poole does a great job at directing the orchestra because of how precise he is. He stopped at every moment he felt something was not sounding right to fix even the slightest problem.

He gave everybody clear instructions, telling certain instruments when it was their time to start by playing, giving them cues. For example “the cymbals go ‘crash’ and then the rest goes da da da da”. Everybody took notes and paid careful attention to his instructions.

People should attend this concert because of how much work has gone into perfecting its sound and how smooth the music and singing are. Skip has worked extremely hard to perfect this concert, stopping anytime he isn’t satisfied with how it sounds. He makes sure that everyone is in sync with each other.

With over forty years of experience performing with jazz bands, it is guaranteed that this orchestra is in good hands and will not disappoint. For anybody that is a fan of jazz, bands, or even live performances in general, this concert is perfect for you.

One of the songs starts off with a light piano melody, and then CJ starts singing, which is followed by the rest of the orchestra playing behind him so as not to drown out his singing. This is one of the things Skip has perfected and worked hard to achieve as well as all of the musicians. The different instruments blend together making the performance smooth and dream-like. Every song of theirs feels smooth and dream-like, bringing a calm feeling to the audience. When CJ’s singing ends the orchestra is able to play louder because they don’t have to be behind the singer. They become the main attraction and own the show.

I noticed how the orchestra members collaborated with each other. When one person made a mistake, some of the other instruments made mistakes as well because of how they were working together and trying to stay in sync with each other. I believe that the main things they were trying to do were: stay in sync, make sure the song flowed nicely, and work together to make sure all of this happened.

I learned that before rehearsals begin a lot is happening and many different instruments play many different things at the same time. I also learned that instruments depend on instruments meaning that at the beginning of the song when instruments first start playing, their cues are what another instrument does before it’s their turn to start playing.

I also learned that the music has to be behind the singer, otherwise the singer will be drowned out and it can be hard to do that sometimes because each instrument needs to be heard but can’t be too loud.

I interviewed a member of Hillside’s orchestra and they gave me three reasons why you should join a music department:

  1. By participating in an activity like being in a music program, you’re able to make friends and spend time with people who have the same interests as you
  2. You can grow and challenge your brain. It has been found that playing an instrument is very beneficial for your brain and students who play an instrument do better in school
  3. you can perform in concerts which help with performing in front of people and teamwork skills

I also interviewed a member of Hillside’s band and they gave me four reasons for why you should join a music department: 

  1. You will become a part of a tight-knit community that will always have your back.
  2.  It will offer many fun and unique experiences that you would otherwise miss.
  3.  You will be given a chance to meet and become friends with many other people who you would otherwise not have known in your own grade and other grades.
  4.  Having experience in the musical arts is likely to help you get into college and people who have a musical background tend to be more successful in school.

Finally, if you are not yet playing an instrument, here are three reasons why I think you should:

  1. It’s fun to learn about an instrument and make cool sounds with it, especially when you’re able to play songs that you’ve heard before or love
  2. It challenges your brain because you have to think about where to put your fingers, how long you need to play each note, while trying to make the whole song flow nicely
  3. Performing can be hard at first but eventually it becomes a fun way to show the people you love and people you don’t even know the songs you’ve learned to play and things you’ve learned

In the end, I am so glad I got to experience the rehearsal for NH Jazz Orchestra’s Welcome to the Club show, and believe you should go see it! After all, the party isn’t over my friend!

Welcome to the Club: A Celebration of the American Crooners presented in its original format with a full 19 Piece Big Band. A reinvention of the classic Copacabana Club with hits from Frank Sinatra, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Bing Crosby, Bobby Darin, Mel Tormé, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Tony Bennett.

All the original orchestration performed as they were originally intended!

Story by Talia Harmon, a student contributor for the Inkubator.

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