Music fans interested in singing jazz and other standards overflowed Alcorn Music Studio's new “GigSpace” on Saturday October 1, 2011, during the free “Come Sing Standards” Culture Days event presented by the Capital Vox jazz choir.
More than 55 people came to sing both classic jazz standards and Beatles tunes for 80 minutes, accompanied by choir members, and part of the choir's rhythm section: Marilee Townsend-Alcorn on drums and Mark Alcorn on double bass.
The guests and the choir were enthusiastically led through the afternoon by Capital Vox director Elise Letourneau, who also accompanied on voice and keyboards. She opened the afternoon by informing the multitude that was jammed in the room that “GigSpace was intended for small and intimate performances – like this,” to much laughter. The feeling of a fun afternoon was maintained throughout the session, despite everyone being densely packed and the air conditioner being unable to keep the air cool.
Letourneau started off by moving the Capital Vox choir, and audience with lyric books in hand, through jazz standards that included “I'm Beginning to See the Light”, “Bye Bye Blackbird”, “Don't Get Around Much Anymore”, and “Girl from Ipanema”, the latter featuring a Portuguese solo by choir tenor Jerry Sociedade.
Putting on her music educator's hat, she shared short intros to elements of music and the vocal form with the guest vocalists: vamped introductions (which was improvised to accommodate more people arriving and settling in at the start of the first song), call-and-response scatting, with Letourneau and the audience interacting, three-time tag endings, and the role of the verse in jazz standard form.
“That's the thing about standards – we think of standards as Gershwin, Ellington, and it's true and they are wonderful stuff , but standards keep moving forward in time and they live and progress, just like the people who make them standards, just like us,” Letourneau said.
The later part of the program switched to more modern standards: Beatles' tunes, which included “In My Life”, “I'm Only Sleeping”, “Nowhere Man”, “Eight Days a Week”, “Can't Buy Me Love”, and “Hey, Jude”. Capital Vox showcased a few of the tunes which they are working on toward their November 19 Beatlemania show at Dominion Chalmers United Church.
“Come Sing Standards” was part of Alcorn Music Studio's first open house at their new location, which they moved into a month ago from their former, cramped Carling Avenue location. Owners-operators Marilee Townsend-Alcorn and Mark Alcorn had worked diligently to prepare the new GigSpace for the event. It will serve as the new home for the Capital Vox jazz choir and host many musical events in the future, including Tim Bedner's regular “Inside the Music” series which has presented many jazz musicians' workshops over the past five years.
– Brett Delmage
All photos ©Brett Delmage, 2011