Carol of the Bells: Holiday Music from Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra


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The music presented in Carol of the Bells, this collection of holiday favorites, has been in the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra library for many years, the original intent to be used for live performances during the Christmas season. It never occurred to us to record these pieces initially, but the response from audience members was so strong, that we felt it was time to honor their requests for a CD. The project, recorded entirely in one day, proved to be a complete joy for everyone involved and we are very proud of the end product.

These arrangements are particularly personal for me in that they reflect the influences of three distinct sources: First, Everett Greene who is the possessor of a voice that is beautiful and moving beyond description. I strove to fashion the arrangements around him, complimenting his warm, subtly swinging style without detracting from it with overblown charts. I wanted his influence to be felt throughout all of the arrangements and fit naturally with his style. The next influence stems from a number of arrangers who have had a profound effect of me: Nelson Riddle, Sy Oliver, Billy May, Henry Mancini, Billy Byers, and of course Duke Ellington. These geniuses had one thing in common: they never forgot that a great arrangement conveys more than just technique. They must showcase the original song with an intent that communicates emotion directly to the audience. I wanted these charts to be at once artistic and musical as well as beautiful and accessible.

The final influence is the source material itself. I enjoyed a childhood, which celebrated the holiday season in an idyllic, storybook fashion. We always had white Christmases, Bing Crosby was always on the stereo, and I would return home from school often to the smell of fresh cookies right out of the oven. Corny, I know but I love the music of the holidays and I hope that our listeners can sense the joy that went into this project with each listening. -- Brent Wallarab

Consisting of 17 pieces, the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra includes many of the top freelance jazz artists in the Midwest. These artists have decades of performance experience between them, such as appearances with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the Artie Shaw Orchestra, the Benny Goodman Tribute Band, Natalie Cole, Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson and Woody Herman, as well as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. The late jazz icon J.J. Johnson called the BWJO, “A marvelous new band with exceptional soloists and some of the most creative and satisfying writing I've heard in a long time."

BWJO co-founders Mark Buselli and Brent Wallarab are respected educators, as well as accomplished musicians and composers. Their common commitment to America's jazz heritage brought the BWJO to life and helped define the mission of the organization.

This story appears courtesy of Michael Bloom Media Relations.
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