Once more, the musicians of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra lived up to their Principal Pops Conductor John Morris Russell’s assessment: “These cats can swing.” And swing they did on Friday morning with their Resident Conductor, Stefan Sanders, on the podium, in a fast paced show with lots of moving parts. That show, called “Benny and Me” repeats this Saturday night, October 8, at 8 p.m. at Kleinhans Music Hall. For many on stage, it’s a labor of love, supporting their own Sal Andolina, whose “day job” is primarily playing bass clarinet in the orchestra’s classical series.
But Andolina wears many hats. While there are classical musicians who also play jazz, here we have a legacy of Buffalo’s great jazz history, who can also play classical. In fact, in a recent conversation with WBFO, Andolina said that his classical playing improves his jazz, and vice versa.
But it wasn’t until college that Andolina, a Pre-Med major, made the decision to become a professional musician. As he told WNED, his mother had told him “You can be and do whatever you want. You can be whatever kind of doctor you want.” (rim shot). But, ultimately, he said to himself: “If I don’t do music I’m going to be miserable for the rest of my life.”
And Andolina has brought joy to many over the years, including Friday morning’s audience, with his sweet, sweet clarinet sound. It was a tribute to the famous big band leader, clarinetist Benny Goodman, and Andolina even held his clarinet like Goodman. What makes a band “tight?” Well, years of playing together, and not only does the orchestra know Andolina, he also brought a group of his favorite jazz musicians to sit in, players with whom he’s toured and recorded.
If you think “I don’t like jazz,” this is jazz that you can’t help but love.
Just as modern “classical” composers, especially in academic circles, left millions of listeners behind starting in the 1960s, it was, for many, that way in jazz, too. So, if you think “I don’t like jazz,” this is jazz that you can’t help but love.
The next BPO concerts will feature the music of Tchaikovsky (including the “1812” overture) on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, October 15 and 16. Then, one night only, Friday, October 21 at 8 p.m. the BPO presents “BPO Rocks – U2 Symphony Experience” followed on Saturday, October 22 by a Pops Concert with John Morris Russell conducting “New York Voices: Sweet Sounds of the 70s” (think Manhattan Transfer) and a Sunday October 23 afternoon Kids Concert, the “Symphonic Spooktacular.”
*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)
ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (e.g. you are the parent of someone who is performing), give this concert a wide berth.
TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the performance is pretty far off base, or the music itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to hear live music, you might look around for something else.
THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good music making. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.
FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the performance and the music are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.
FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!