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Benny Meets Artie stage at Oxford Community Center. Chesapeake Music and OCC have joined in a harmonious partnership to present Benny Meets Artie with Strings. The show will celebrate the music of legendary big band leaders Goodman and his widely perceived competitor, Artie Shaw. The acclaimed clarinetists were renowned for pushing the boundaries of jazz, encompassing elements of other genres while maintaining impeccable technique: a feat it seems the Andersons, whom The New York Times calls “virtuosos on clarinet and saxophone,” are on track to achieve ~ albeit without any rivalry! “We’re showcasing how special Benny and Artie were to American music,” says Will, explaining how their popularity as jazz musicians was unprecedented and their musical proficiency uncharted. “They were the pop stars of their day.” The Andersons, playing reeds, will be joined on stage by 15 string players, a pianist, a bassist and a drummer for an exquisite evening of imaginative renditions of old favorites. Conducting the performance, and playing vibraphones, will be Kyle Athayde, who also wrote all the arrangements. “He has a good sense for all this music and what we’re going for,” explains Will. “We’ve hand-picked musicians who we really know are

going to knock this out of the park, who have familiarity with both jazz and classical music.” While the performance will certainly pay homage to the original recordings, the twins will be putting their own spin on the setlist, which includes classics like Shaw’s Begin the Beguine and Goodman’s Stompin’ at the Savoy ~ and, without question, the one that started it all: Sing, Sing, Sing. “Their repertoire is so vast, it’s difficult to choose only some of them,” says Will, before playing one of the more unexpected selections, Shaw’s Concerto for Clarinet. “It’s not as often played as some of his other hits, but it’s very epic,” he adds. “That’s going to be a highlight, I think.” Intentionally steering away from simply recreating the songbooks of Goodman and Shaw enables the ensemble to engage in longer improvisations, particularly when it comes to shining a spotlight on the strings. “These are brand-new, neverbefore-heard versions of what Artie and Benny played,” Will adds, excitedly. “We can’t wait!” In addition to Goodman and Shaw, Will says he and his brother were heavily influenced by musicians like Duke Ellington, who broke barriers by incorporating more modern elements into his music. “We love Benny and Artie, but it’s not all we love,” he says. “And at


Profile for Tidewater Times

Tidewater Times December 2018  

Tidewater Times December 2018