Friday, February 26, 2016

TCJO honors Billie Holiday

“If I'm going to sing like someone else, then I don't need to sing at all.” —  Billie Holiday

GOOD ADVICE for us all, Billie.

Turner Center Jazz Orchestra, the 17-piece Big Band that Paul and I and Richard Early manage, held it's Jazz for Lovers and Friends valentine concert, February 11. 

This one was my concert. 

When Annick told me about the paintings she'd made (this will make sense when you read the text below the screen cap), it was apparent to me what an exceptional opportunity we had to create a unique concert experience. 

The boys, however, even Paul, were all like, "Paintings? Huh? What?" 

I had to wait a year to get it on the schedule, but schedule it, I did. To promote it, I arranged a TV studio interview and wrote an article that ran on the front page of the Iowa Bystander the day before the concert. 

(I screen capped the Bystander article, but the type is too small to read, so I retyped it in a readable point size and added it at the bottom. I also a attached a picture from that night.)

To make the run-up even more complicated, Annick's husband, Craig, and I hatched a plan to commission TCJO musical director Andy Classen to write an original composition entitled Je t'aime Annick. The goal was to debut the tune as a surprise for her at the valentine concert where her paintings would be hung. 

Although the Bystander article and TV interview announced that the program included the first performance of an original composition, the title and subject were absolutely classified, and the band sworn to secrecy at rehearsals. 

But . . . the bass player told his 10-year-old son, who just happened to be . . . best friends with Craig and Annick's 10-year-old son . . . to whom he immediately spilled the beans. However, trustworthy young gentleman that their son proved to be, he kept the secret! Pretty amazing for a 10-year-old.

Andy did a superb job on the composition — it's a beautiful ballad, Tina Haase Findlay was flawless as usual, Annick was stunned almost senseless and the concert was completely sold out


Turner Center Jazz Orchestra Honors Bille Holiday with an Evening of Jazz and Art

By Kelly Sargent
February 8, 2016

Legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday was born 100 years ago this past April, and Thursday, February 11 Turner Center Jazz Orchestra (TCJO) will dedicate their annual valentine’s concert to her. Tina Haase Findlay, who has earned a legion of fans in her own right, will be singing Billie Holiday classics to honor Lady Day.

Tina, originally from Algona, Iowa, has been a fixture of the Des Moines music scene for over 30 years. She began performing publicly at age three and has gone on to make her musical mark in the fields of jazz, blues, rock, soul, gospel, commercial jingles, musical theater and beyond. Tina has been the leader of the award-winning bands, The Groove Merchants, Lady Blue, Bella Soul and her current blues band, Diva and the Deacons. Tina and her husband, Brandon Findlay, are the 2015 Iowa Blues Challenge Solo/Duo Champions.

To further mark the occasion, a painting of Billie Holiday by sculptor/painter Annick Ibsen will be unveiled. In 2014 Annick attended her first TCJO concert and was so impressed by the music and venue that she went back to her studio and created two large paintings based on what she'd seen and heard. These paintings, plus the new one honoring Billie, will be shown for the first time.

Annick was born in Paris and lived in Libya, Indonesia, Hong Kong, London and India before moving to Des Moines. Her work embraces the richness of a life lived around the world and draws on the symbolism of the diverse cultures she’s experienced. Her paintings aim to express the sculptural qualities of the human form, and a strong cubist influence reinforces the connection between figurative and sculptural art forms.

In addition, a new composition by TCJO musical director, Andy Classen, will be debuted that night. Andy is Professor of Trumpet and Director of Jazz Studies at Drake University. Andy is also principal trumpet of Orchestra Iowa in Cedar Rapids, an active jazz composer and regularly plays with touring Broadway shows performing in Des Moines. To make the experience even richer, throughout the evening Simpson College Professor of Music, John Benoit, will offer historical footnotes behind the music.


Tina Haase Findlay sings Billie Holiday with two of Annick Ibsen's painting hung at the back.

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