HSJF Recap: Berklee Rainbow Big Band

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Tia Fuller directing the Berklee Rainbow Big Band at the 2014 HSJF.

Every year, the Berklee High School Jazz Festival features a variety of great concerts by Berklee’s student-led bands and ensembles. For many years, the Berklee Rainbow Big Band has performed as one of the highlights of the festival. For the last couple of years, saxophonist Tia Fuller has directed this all-star ensemble of some of the best Berklee students from different years, and this year’s band even features a first semester student in the saxophone section. Very impressive!

The band walked on stage to a spoken-word recording put together for this performance, and as it ended the band was counted in and delivered a sharp, crisp performance from the first note onward; not only was their playing sharp, but their dress was sharp too!

Pianist, composer, and arranger Matt Wong from San Francisco, CA, was this year’s winner of the Herb Pomeroy Jazz Composition/Arranging contest; this prestigious award included a scholarship to the Berklee Five Week summer program and a performance of the winning piece by the Rainbow Big Band. Congrats to you, Matt! (Learn more about Matt here http://festival.berkleejazz.org/herbpomeroy2015/)

For the Rainbow Big Band’s performance, Fuller had picked a variety of originals including “Descend To Barbados” from her most recent record, Angelic Warrior, and arrangements from musicians she’s worked with over the years. The set wrapped up with an arrangement of Wayne Shorter’s “Speak No Evil” by trumpeter Igmar Thomas (a version played by the Revive Big Band can be found below). Over the years, Fuller has worked with some of the strongest women in the music industry, varying from Beyoncé to Dianna Reeves to Terri Lyne Carrington. The sound of the band was fresh and soulful with both swinging and grooving tunes.

Additional Listening:
Speak No Evil played by the Revive Big Band
Tia Fuller – Descend To Barbados

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          February 11, 2017