COVER STORY: Swingin’ start to Christmas season

“We’re going to take the beautiful Christmas tunes you love and play them loud and angry,” was the introduction by Boston Brass’s tubist, Andrew Hitz. Loud, indeed, but the energy from the stage of Johnson County Community College’s Yardley Hall was in no way angry. The Boston Brass, along with the Brass All-Stars Big Band, played a selection of holiday tunes from their albums, Christmas Bells are Swingin’ and The Stan Kenton Christmas Carols.

The program was a mix of arrangements of sacred and secular tunes. Many of the sacred pieces were arranged by Ralph Carmichael for Stan Kenton’s band, giving the overall concert a decidedly jazz-influenced slant. Though the first selection of “Joy to the World” was a little weak, with an unbalanced and out-of-tune horn section, the rest of the concert was fun and upbeat. Between each piece, different members from the group talked to the audience telling jokes and stories, giving the ensemble time to rest their chops from a challenging selection of repertoire.

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