Big Band Performance Slated for Eastport

The UMaine Big Band Jazz Ensemble will give a concert at EAC on Friday, October 19, following a day of instruction for instrumental students from four area schools. (Submitted photo)

By Lura Jackson


Big band jazz is a style of music that is uniquely American in origin, representing a fusion of blues, ragtime, black spiritual music, and European music. Per its name, it incorporates a “big” band consisting of many instruments lending to each song. In an unusual treat for the region, UMaine’s Jazz Ensemble is coming to Eastport on Friday, October 19th to engage musically-inclined students and play for the public in a grand show.

UMaine’s Jazz Ensemble consists of 21 musicians, including instructor Phil Edelman and faculty member Dan Barrett. The other players are undergraduate musicians, most of whom have been playing their instruments since a very young age, Edelman shared. The group meets frequently to play together and hone their conjoined sound. “We rehearse together three times per week for one hour, and we have blast learning with and from each other,” Edelman said.

In accordance with the theme, attendees to the concert can expect to see a number of jazz-producing instruments, including four types of saxophones, clarinet, trombones, trumpets, flugelhorns, and a traditional jazz rhythm section consisting of piano, bass, guitar, and drums.

The ensemble will treat attendees to a wide range of music within the big band theme, Edelman explained. “We are bringing a program that will run the gamut of the repertoire. From traditional swing charts to dance band ballads, and from classic jumps to funk, there is a little bit for everybody to enjoy. Think of it as a fast journey through the eclectic collection of the modern big band.”

While the public performance is a major component of the visit, it isn’t the only reason the group is coming to Eastport. As part of their trip, they’ll be holding a school concert and a presentation on the various styles of jazz for band students from Eastport, Calais, Machias, Washington Academy and Alexander. Afterward, the students will meet with the band members in three different groups to learn about instrumental techniques and life as a college musician.

“We strongly believe in the power of music and shared experience as a force for good in our community,” Edelman said. “We hope to inspire your local musicians to keep working hard and making excellent music with each other. We will be working with them on various ways to continue playing once they graduate, including at the University of Maine.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for learning about the many styles of jazz,” said Alison Brennan, Education Outreach Coordinator for the Eastport Arts Center. “Our community features some excellent small jazz ensembles but nothing like the big band sound you can hear on the 19th.”

The visit from the UMaine Jazz Ensemble to the area was made possible by a joint grant from the Maine Arts Commission and Maine Humanities Council.


The public concert will be held at the Eastport Arts Center at 6:30 p.m. Donations will be accepted.