Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Friday night was a great night for a concert and it just so happens that it was also the season opener for The Fox Theatre. This year's season opened with The Count Basie Orchestra.
This is a one of a kind jazz orchestra. Lead by Scotty Barnhart, this outstanding group of musicians played some swinging tunes. There were seventeen instruments, eighteen if you count the conductor. Barnhart guided the musicians through a variety of difficult songs with a wide variety of tempos. He dialed up the sound as well as dialing it down. Truly Barnhart's conducting skills count as an instrument of sorts.
Throughout each song, various musicians would take a turn as soloist on the stage and do some improvisation. Sometimes two instruments would stand out from the group as dual soloists. It's because of these amazing solo improvisation's that a Count Basie Orchestra show is always one of a kind.
One of my favorite parts of the evening was when soloist, Carmen Bradford, took to the stage. She had such a presence as she walked onto the stage in this gorgeous black ensemble. The power in her voice was incredible. As Barnhart brought the orchestra up as loud as he could, which was loud, we're talking trumpets, saxophones, trombones, drums, a guitar, a bass, and a piano; seventeen instruments in all. Bradford's voice rose over and above the orchestra and you could hear every note, every word of the song as clear as if there were no orchestra there at all. She gave it all she had and it gave me chills. Bradford took a bit of a breather afterward, to gather herself, but then launched into the next song. Carmen Bradford is truly a gifted, talented vocalist.
Also along for this show, was Brandon Robertson on bass, who was filling in for the regular bass player. Robertson is one of Barnhart's students at Florida State. He's a master student there and Barnhart brought him along to give him a taste of performing live for the public in something other than an academic setting. Robertson slipped into his role as band member effortlessly.
If you had the chance to catch the show and want to keep the magic going, or if you didn't go but wish you had, The Count Basie Orchestra has put together a Christmas album, the first complete Christmas CD they've ever done. It is available for pre-sale on Amazon and should be available in November.
Coming up next at The Fox Theatre, on Friday, October 2, Suzy Bogguss will be performing live. Tickets are still available.