The big band theory: jazz accompanied by images

Yesterday evening, I attended the fifth installment of an annual series of jazz concerts hosted by Vanier College. This year’s edition, just like last year’s, featured the Laurenhill Academy Senior Band, the Vanier College Big Band and the McGill Jazz Orchestra 1. The evening was hosted by Jeanette Kelly, host of Cinq à Six and arts reporter for Daybreak on CBC radio.

The subject of the post may seem like an unfortunate play on words to produce a catchy title, and it probably is. Actually, I had to stretch my mind to unknown frontiers to establish a link with the matter at hand: music. And I did: inasmuch as the big bang theory concerns the evolution the universe, the Vanier concert offers an opportunity to experience the evolution of musical performance as the show features three bands of increasing musical education, from high school to University. The virtuosity demonstrated by the McGill Jazz Orchestra 1 reflects the bright future for high school performers, which is attainable through a rigorous regimen of learning and practice.

The program is most enjoyable as it offers a mix of jazz standards combined to less known pieces, as well as works from Canadian composers selected by Joe Sullivan, director and conductor of the McGill Jazz Orchestra 1.

From a photographic perspective, shooting a concert is always challenging as it combines low light, uneven lighting with movement. I had to shoot at a high ISO setting of 6400 wide open in an attempt to freeze motion as best as I could. Conversion from RAW files with white balance and exposure adjustments, as well as noise reduction is an absolute must. Here’s a selection of images from the three bands performing.


Laurenhill Academy Senior Band, Daniel Ouellette, conductor

  • Milestones: M. Davis, comp., P. Blair, arr.
  • Cool: L. Bernstein, comp., M. Taylor, arr.
  • Bellavia: C. Mangione, comp., V. Lopez, arr.
  • Hit the Bricks: G. Goodwin, comp.

Vanier College Big Band, Jocelyn Couture, conductor

  • How About You: B. Lane, comp., R. Freed, lyrics, D. Wolpe, arr.
  • Haven’t Met You Yet: M. Bublé, A. Chang, A. Foster, comp., lyrics, S. Ragsdale, arr.
  • Hot It Up: S. Berg, comp. arr.
  • It’s Only a Paper Moon: H. Arlen, comp., B. Rose and E.Y. Harburg, lyrics, J. Nowak, arr.
  • When I Fall in Love: V. Young, comp., E. Heyman, lyrics, J. Nowak, arr.
  • Straighten Up and Fly Right: N. King Cole, comp. I. Mills, lyrics, D. Wolpe, arr.

McGill Jazz Orchestra 1, Joe Sullivan, conductor

  • Starlight: K. MacDonald, comp., T. Promane, arr.
  • Happy Groundhog Day: J. Sullivan, comp. arr.
  • Three and One: T. Jones, comp. arr.
  • Goodbye Glen: K. MacDonald, comp. J. Sullivan, arr.
  • Autumn Leaves: J. Kosma, comp. J. Sullivan, arr.

Equipment: Canon DSLR 5D Mk II, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 lens, Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens, Sigma 85 mm f/1.4 EX lens and Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 EX OS lens, RAW conversion using Adobe Lightroom 3.6

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