Match Made In Heaven

Match Made In Heaven

SoNA jazzes up ‘pops’ with big band beat


The repertoire for the evening includes selections from some of the biggest blockbusters to hit the Hollywood movie screens, including “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” James Bond, “Singin’ in the Rain,” “The Sound of Music,” “April in Paris,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and more.

But the lineup making the music for the concert March 10 is even bigger.

“Let’s just say the stage will be packed with musicians,” says Paul Haas, music director of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas.

The “pops” concert includes not only the 70 members of SoNA but also the musicians of the Fayetteville Jazz Collective, a traditional 18-piece jazz big band formed in the summer of 2009.

“Through grassroots promotion and consistently stellar live performances, the band continues to expand its fan-base with every gig,” says Ben Harris, guitarist with the Fayetteville Jazz Collective and also director of operations and annual giving for SoNA. But “a jazz big band playing with an orchestra is a pretty rare occurrence, so there’s a lot we have to adapt to. Most notably, on the combined pieces when we’re playing with the orchestra, we have to make sure we follow Paul Haas so that we’re all playing together.

“Fortunately for us, Paul is a brilliant conductor, and he has a great understanding of what we do as jazz musicians, so he’s a lot of fun for us to work with. And it’s always fun getting to work with other musicians that we don’t often get to play with,” Harris says.

“SoNA and the FJC are both on stage the whole time, next to each other,” Haas adds. “We’ll be alternating back and forth, except when we are playing together.”

Harris explains that the premise of a combined “Pops” experience isn’t a new one for the two diverse groups.

“We’ve had an enduring friendship with SoNA since our last concert with them, and we’ve been eager to play with them again,” he says. “While the FJC primarily plays classic big band jazz, we also feature the compositions and arrangements of our ‘composer in residence,’ Rick Salonen. One of Rick’s passions is taking standard classical pieces and arranging them for the jazz band. On the last concert with SoNA we played Rick’s arrangement of Mozart’s 40th Symphony, and he’s arranged a lot of other classical pieces for us, one of which we’ll get to play [at] this concert.

“We’ll be playing a couple of classics from the Count Basie band and a few other well-known big band pieces, including a feature for our brilliant pianist Claudia Burson,” says Harris. “And, of course, we’ll join forces with the orchestra for a few familiar pieces,” which will include “Gonna Fly Now” from “Rocky” and the theme from “The Pink Panther,” among others.

“We picked a really high-energy collection of film music from the last 70 years or so,” Haas adds. “Some sentimental ballads, some high-octane, blood-pumping selections — basically a concert that’ll guarantee a house full of satisfied audience members.”


Courtesy Photo
The Fayetteville Jazz Collective will share the Walton Arts Center stage March 10 with the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas.

Pops: SoNA With The

Fayetteville Jazz Collective

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. March 10

WHERE — Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville

COST — $30-$52

INFO — 443-5600

Categories: Music