Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band
From time to time something potentially so remarkable comes to our attention that we feel as an organization we have both an opportunity and an obligation to pursue the possibility of presenting a project to the community. The Thomas Hart Benton Musical Tribute, composed and performed by Orrin Evan’s Captain Black Big Band, is just one such occasion.
Coincidentally, Evans, whose other Jazz Series appearance took place as a member of trumpeter-cohort Sean Jones’ Quartet in March 2014, was on the short list for this season. So, when we became aware the Metropolitan Museum of Art commissioned his large ensemble and had the group premiere “The Harlem Suite” on February 20, 2015, doing so specifically in conjunction with its exhibition “Thomas Hart Benton’s America Today Mural Rediscovered” (September 2014 – April 2015), we thought some form of serendipity had befallen us.
After all, we sit in Central Missouri – essentially serving as the epicenter of Benton country. The State Historical Society of Missouri [SHS] ostensibly houses the largest collection of the artist’s work. Let’s not forget that there is a veritable “slew” of large-sized Benton murals, which hang in the Missouri State Capital.
So the idea of presenting a concert centered on the work of Benton took off – especially, as it turns out, the Jazz Series would be only the second entity in the entire country to present the commissioned work. A meeting in New York with Metropolitan Museum of Art staff proved fruitful; subsequent meetings with SHS staff, namely Joan Stack, Curator of Art Collections and a Benton expert, cemented the idea, which began to take on a life of its own.
Ultimately, what was to be a measurable concert evolved into a three-day event running February 2-February 4, with the proceedings encompassing film screenings, panel discussions and finally this season’s MU College of Arts & Science “Signature Concert.” At press time, some final details are still being worked out, but suffice to say, the Jazz Series scored and as a result Columbia/Central Missouri is living large with Evans and his 10-piece Captain Black Band set to take the Missouri Theatre stage.
“IN SYNC WITH THOMAS HART BENTON”
Audio and Video
Captain Black Big Band
Orrin Evans: Piano/Leader