Big bands can do more than just swing. David Sanford takes the typical instrumentation of a big band and extends its range to works that run closer at times to modern classical music, but occasionally incorporate styles from rhythm and blues and bop to punk and even the tango. "It's hard to look at it as jazz," said Sanford. "That's generally what people expect when they hear the term 'big band,' and we do have jazz influences in there. But we go well outside of that with these pieces." Stylistically, the audience can expect a wide range of feel to the music: The Pittsburgh Collective lists influences as diverse as the modern classical work of Stravinsky and Luciano Berio, jazz composers such as Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton, and even the funk of Parliament/ Funkadelic and the intense modern rock
of King Crimson.
The 21-member ensemble is composed of players versed in mediums from classical and jazz to straight-ahead rock, with some musicians from the Pioneer Valley as well as musical associates of Sanford dating back to his college days in Colorado. "One of the trumpet players will be coming in from Tokyo for this, while a saxophonist is flying in from California," he said.
However, the makeup of the Collective is critical, according to Sanford. "We really have a hand-picked group of some of the best players I know on their instruments," Sanford said. "As much as I could, I didn't spare much expense." The Collective's work has been supported by grants from the College and the music department, as well as the American Academy in Rome, where Sanford conducted several of the pieces with a Roman group during the summer. "The College has been very generous," noted Sanford. The ensemble will also take briefly to the road, performing the following evening, September 25, at the Knitting Factory in New York City.
Sanford, who teaches courses in theory, composition, the history of jazz, and music of the 1970s, recently authored a composition, "Seventh Avenue Kaddish," which was commissioned for Northampton-based cellist Matt Haimovitz's new album Anthem. The disc's pieces for solo cello are based around themes relating to the 9/11 tragedy.
Still, he said, the ability to write for the Pittsburgh Collective, and to actually realize that work in performance, is a career highlight. "This is something I wanted to do as far back as junior high school," Sanford said. "It's challenging, no question, but very
satisfying as well."
Oxingale releases it's 10th album: David Sanford and the Pittsburgh Collective: Live at the Knitting Factory, featuring Matt Haimovitz. Sanford leads 5 saxophones, 5 trumpets, 5 trombones, piano, electric guitar, bass, drums, and congas in his debut album. Trailblazing cellist Matt Haimovitz joins in Sanford's new cello concerto, Scherzo Grosso.
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Crossover Media Projects with: David Sanford & Pitt. Coll.