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1 March 2012

Studio jazz band transforms favorite Radiohead tunes

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Neil Carson plays the alto sax during 2+2=5, arranged by Florian Ross during Radiohead Jazz Project on Wednesday night. Marlena Skrobe//Photo Editor

With bright trombones, crooning saxophones and an upbeat piano, the students musicians of the Frost School of Music’s studio jazz band blended Sinatra with modern alternative rock at their Radiohead Jazz Project performance Wednesday.

The project, which was first recorded in Wisconsin in 2010 by Fred Sturm’s Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, transformed 12 popular Radiohead songs into jazzy arrangements. Radiohead is a Grammy-award winning British band that is currently on Rolling Stone’s list of“The Greatest Artists of All Time.”

Songs performed Wednesday by the jazz band included “Paranoid Android,” “2+2=5” and “Idioteque.”

“It’s not your normal big band music,” said studio jazz band Director Stephen Guerra, who said Sturm was his mentor. “There are no conventions in it. It’s all new music and it’s really good because it really pushes the limit.”

Both Daniel Cavanagh and James Miley, who were a part of arranging the music for the Radiohead project, attended on Wednesday. They also conducted the songs they were involved in arranging.

“The jazz band is very strong, so to come in here and see performers of this caliber is a treat,” Cavanagh said.

The studio jazz band is just one of three jazz big bands at the Frost School of Music. It is the second-tier ensemble; the XJB is the first-level band and the concert jazz band is the highest level.

All of Frost’s jazz bands are constantly at work, either recording albums or performing in the community. Recently the concert jazz band performed at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival with Grammy award-winning flautist Nestor Torres.

Sophomore Neil Carson, a jazz saxophone major, played a number of solos Wednesday on his alto saxophone. His favorite part about being involved in the studio jazz band is performing.

“There’s just this adrenaline rush and the suspense of if we’re going to nail our parts and if everything going to turn out right,” said Carson who was in the XJB last year. “And it definitely did this time.”

Auditions for the XJB band is open to students of all majors. Musicians can move up in jazz band levels through auditions at the beginning of every fall semester.

Although this was the studio jazz band’s last major performance of the semester, the concert jazz band will perform March 23, as they take their audience back to the swing era.

Amilynn Soto contributed to this report.

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