Jordan English Jazz Orchestra is 'Swingin' in the holidays
CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — The best kind of Christmas is a swingin’ Christmas.
The Jordan English Jazz Orchestra will perform “Swingin’... In A Winter Wonderland” from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, at the Old Opera House in Charles Town. Preparations for the show are started nearly a year in advance.
“Usually it starts the year before, believe it or not,” said Jordan English, 29, managing artistic director of the Jordan English Jazz Orchestra, during a telephone interview from his home in Martinsburg, W.Va. “This will be our fourth or fifth concert that we’ve done. Right now I’m already planning for next year. Last December I started coming up with ideas; in the past, we’ve done the ‘Nutcracker,’ ‘To Tell A Tale of Christmas,’ and ‘Swingin’ in the Holidays.’ I was putting together a list, and the second song was ‘Swingin’ in a Winter Wonderland’, and there was the title.”
Rehearsals started in October.
“We roughly have about three to four rehearsals before the big show,” he said.
The orchestra has been together for nearly a decade.
“It was originally just a reading band, and it evolved into a performing band,” English said. “It’s a group that’s been together for years. It’s a close-knit group of band directors living in the area. A lot of us know each other through conventions and stuff like that, that’s how we all got to know each other.”
English, who is a high school English teacher, is in the process of becoming a music teacher.
“I’m a saxophone player, that’s my main instrument, and I play all the woodwinds that go along with that when needed,” he said. “I have a degree in music composition, and I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree in music education. I’ve arranged a couple of pieces for this concert, and I’m getting ready for a competition in the springtime.”
The orchestra’s show this year is different from those they’ve done in the past.
“We’re doing something a little bit different this year,” English said. “Usually we stick with traditions, but we went a little different. We’re doing ‘Joy to the World’ arranged by Rich DeRosa. It’s not your traditional ‘Joy to the World.’ What’s different about it is the style it’s arranged in. It’s almost a New Orleans street beat, and later in the piece, it’s hoedown. It’s something a little less traditional people hear with ‘Joy to the World.’”
English is excited to play the Old Opera House.
“It’s a very beautiful venue, It’s an old performing space, and there’s a lot of character to it,” he said. “ This is a smaller venue than we usually do, so we’ll get to have more interaction with the audience.”
What makes it worth it for English is the positive reaction of the audience.
“The most rewarding thing, especially with this genre of music, is to see the smile on everyone’s faces,” he said. “When I notice them tapping their toes, or when people get up and start dancing, that’s the most gratifying thing as a performer.”
Top photo: The Jordan English Jazz Orchestra performs at the White House in 2017. (Submitted photo)