Barbary Coast’s Don Glasgo to direct his final Carnival concert
The “elevator music” conception of jazz is not the kind of music to be expected from the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble’s 41st Annual Winter Carnival Concert. Featuring visiting artists Joe Bowie, Steven Bernstein, Bahnamous Bowie and JT Lewis, the concert will feature big band interpretations of musical genres such as funk, R&B, jazz and the James Bond movie soundtrack.
Barbary Coast director Don Glasgo said that the title of the concert reveals how the music played cannot necessarily be considered traditional jazz — he instead called it “all dance music.”
“Old fashioned jazz is dance jazz, it’s all dance music,” he said. “In terms of the abstract side of jazz, there’s nothing we’re doing like that. [The music] is all groove based and high energy.”
Bernstein said that the ensemble’s big band style is not traditional, but rather “big band plus.” He said that his and Joe Bowie’s musical styles are oriented toward funk and blues and that the music of the concert will be familiar melodies played in a big band style.
“It’s not the jazz your grandparents used to listen to,” he said.
There will be some continuity, however, in the instruments used to produce jazz music. Lewis will play drums, Bernstein will play trumpet and slide trumpet, Bahnamous Bowie will play keyboards and Joe Bowie will play trombone and provide vocals for the Winter Carnival concert.
The concert will also feature music from the soundtrack of James Bond films, including the songs “Dr. No” and “The Spy Who Loved Me.”
“I had been doing film music for a while, and I realized what my next project should be,” Bernstein said. “I realized James Bond’s [film] music is probably music known by most people all over the world. I thought I would play that music since everyone knows it, but I would do my own take on it.”
Bernstein said that he enjoys playing music that other people will enjoy listening to, and that he thought it was important for music to reach people. When Bernstein was younger, he saw Joe Bowie’s band, the legendary punk-funk-jazz group Defunkt, play in New York City, New York multiple times. Bernstein said that their performances made him realize that one must play music that listeners enjoy while also maintaining the jazz genre. Like Joe Bowie, Bernstein also serves as a bandleader for jazz bands such as the Millennial Territory Orchestra and Sex Mob.
“What jazz originally was were songs everyone knew and what they called ‘jazzing it up,’” Bernstein said. “[Jazz musicians] played melodies people knew, and a lot of early jazz is from opera melodies, because in New Orleans, [Louisiana], there was a big Italian population, and everyone knew the opera melodies. So they threw those into these jazz songs — [the genre has] always done that.”
This is Bernstein’s third time in residence as a visiting artist in conjunction with programming under the Hopkins Center for the Arts and Joe Bowie’s fifth time in residence on campus.
Bowie said working with students is always refreshing because they have not been influenced by other methods of learning music. He said that there is a lot of room for understanding and reception of new ideas.
“One of the students heard me scatting and wanted to know how to scat things,” Joe Bowie said. “I told him ‘Sure,’ because he wanted to know, he wanted to understand it. That’s an unusual situation. These kids are hungry for something fresh.”
Bernstein said that the students at Dartmouth are exceptionally smart, driven, motivated and open-minded people.
“[Students] like having outside influences come in,” Bernstein said. “[People like] Joe and I are part of the rest of the world, and we travel. I might have different insights because I go out into the world, and we have to create our own living. It’s about learning to be an entrepreneur and think outside the box. Manifest your ideas, not just have them.”
Bernstein and Joe Bowie will be collaborating on stage for the first time since their first meeting in 1979, Glasgo said. After having seen each other perform for over 30 years, Glasgo said that a unified vision and the different approach for this concert is part of the two artists’ collaboration.
This Friday’s concert will also be Glasgo’s last winter concert. This is his 39th year working as director of the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble. In the Upper Valley, Glasgo leads his own professional band, Sol Food, and is the founder and director of the educational program, JAZZology, through which he has also collaborated with Joe Bowie.
Glasgo said that he hopes that his replacement will be able to continue a legacy of bringing in artists the way he has for the past 39 years. Bernstein said that Glasgo is a very humble person, and that he has done something very unique for the College.
“He’s brought the greatest living jazz musicians in history, something [some] music schools don’t even get to do,” Bernstein said.
Joe Bowie said that Glasgo has infused the Upper Valley with culture through his programs and work as director of the jazz ensemble.
“Glasgo is going to be a hard act to follow,” Bowie said. “He’s been bringing culture to this valley for 40 years. This man is going to be hard to replace.”
Barbary Coast will be performing its Winter Carnival Concert on Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. in Spaulding Auditorium.