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Oh, If Only Big Band Music Was Still ‘Popular’


I love to sing jazz. Hence my majoring in Jazz Studies and recording jazz songs. My full jazz standards album will be released this summer.

I’ve loved jazz for as long as I can remember. My older sister, Amy, is a saxophonist and I heard her playing jazz. My first real accompanist was Dave Christensen, an incredible jazz pianist who revered Thelonious Monk. Dave plays like Monk, and I thought, as a ten-year-old, that all pianists played that way. Not so, but thanks to Dave, Monk is my favorite pianist!

And yes, I know Monk was not a big band pianist. He had a big band in his hands. But, I do love big band music and I absolutely love to sing with big bands. There’s just something incredible about all those “voices” coming together, almost like listening to an orchestra. Except, I’d much rather listen to a big band than an orchestra, though I’m not against orchestral music. I am also a harpist and know very well how satisfying orchestral music can be. But when it comes to the “fun factor,” big bands win hands down.

Today, I performed to advertise for a yearly event at BYU called Big Band Night.

Each year, an armed forces veteran is chosen to be honored for the evening. Singers perform a skit circa 1940s and the ballroom is turned into a stage door canteen from 1945. A live big band, Synthesis, performs instrumental dance music which is interspersed with number that include singers. I’m one of the singers!

This year I’m singing “Alright, Okay, You Win” and “Cry Me a River.” Admittedly, those are two of my absolute favorite songs to sing with a big band!

What “Sing, Sing, Sing” is to the instrumental big band genre, “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” is to the vocal big band genre. I know I’ve highlighted this song before, but this one is a live performance of Ella Fitzgerald!

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About Jillaine: As a professional jazz singer who also studies law, savoring daily nosh with family refreshes me. You are invited to my table to try great food, hear tasty music, and join in upbeat conversation!

  • Der Bingle February 13, 2013, 10:27 am

    “He had a big band in his hands” – what a great way to describe Thelonious Monk. When I watch his performances, I am amazed. He was so far ahead of his time as a musical innovator that I think if he emerged today, he would still be ahead of his time.

    Another pianist with a big band in his hands is the late Oscar Peterson. I have never been as blown away by a musician as much as the first time I heard Oscar. I can hardly believe it’s just one person playing. Amazing.

    • Jillaine February 13, 2013, 9:34 pm

      You are so right about Monk and Oscar Peterson! So inventive. I honestly don’t know how their minds just kept creating more and more incredible music!

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