The Preville Big Band
For the past year and so, I’ve had the extreme pleasure to be asked by Tom Green , director of this wonderful established big band in Montreal, to write some arrangements for his singers and to work with his ensemble.
From my first meeting at a 10 am rehearsal, I was pleasantly shocked to see a full big band ready to work. I had brought a few Tower of Power Medleys along with some other Big Band pop songs from swing to Stevie Wonder. My first eye opener was that the full sax section was set up first and ready for instruction. The rhythm section was eager and all smiles. The brass section, with Tom directing from the section, had many good enthusiastic players. Bass bone was a sub but she ended up being the regular chair. Lead trumpet was strong along with his section so from my first rehearsal in front of this group, I had a blast guiding them and with section work, the songs came alive very quickly.
The group has two singers which both sing at a high caliber. It’s so nice to write for them and hear the two play off each other. Very nice harmonies which shows me they have been together for some time. Hats off to Pierre and Caroline!
On the third visit, I was asked to write a few other pop songs for the big band, which I did. I was so pleased to hear that they had recorded a bunch of my songs for a new band album, which I was honored. I look forward to every visit as the band is getting really tight and I love that they seem to get energized from me spending time with them.
From the many groups I have seen over the years, many strive to be “the best band in the city” but rarely do I ever see any of them actually do any work in rehearsals to clean their product. Every chance to perform is a “show” so why wouldn’t you want to be as prepared and clean as possible? The audience always deserves the best we can give them so just “going through the motions” in rehearsals or just playing the song form top to bottom without focusing on cleaning always baffles me. It is up to the Musical Director not only to count off the tune but more so make sure the players all know what is expected of them and that extra focus will be needed to convey the emotion of the chart. Reminding a group of their listening responsibilities, teaching them be sympathetic to a vocalist and explaining the correct style or interpretation the chart deserves all leads to a better execution. Direction is motivation.
It is always a treat for me to go to Montreal to work with and see all my new friends in the Preville Big Band. The band is a great working group performing all over the Montreal/Quebec area. Assisting Tom Green and the Preville Big Band to be a stronger group this 2016, is an extreme pleasure for VegsasNorth.
To book or see more on the Preville Big Band, visit here http://www.preville.qc.ca/dev/