Sunday, August 9, 2009

Big Band Bollène

One of the great joys of life in France is randomly finding yourself in a local festival or concert. Last night, we just happened to be in the city of Bolléne to watch a movie. Upon exiting, we found ourselves in the middle of a free big band concert. So we sat down at a cafè in the main city square and listened to the performance.

The band was dressed in G.I. attire to add authenticity. Costumes are not usually a good sign, but almost immediately, we recognized that this band had chops. After a song or two to warm up, the trumpet section was wailing on notes above the staff. The two main soloists, seated on either side of the section, were especially good. The heavy-set guy, had great tone and very good range, though he seemed new to the band - repeatedly missing queues to stand up and do horn swings. Since all the songs were well known standards, he had no problem keeping up musically.

The band was sometimes joined by a singer whose English accent was passable for an American native. They played for close to two hours, a marathon for the brass section. You could hear the fatigue in the later songs, and those high notes weren't quite as clean. In all, however, it was a great performance. At times, I could imagine myself at a USO concert in 1945, in the heart of a recently liberated French city. The kind of connection to history that I feel here is really incredible.
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This work by Ken Maschke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.