Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Been a cold run of days lately, drizzly, windy, gray imitations of November. But birds are atwitter and the lawns are greener than only last week. Something is going on out there.

We went to Lilly's band concert recently, and I'm happy to report that the program featured real music for the most part, rather than songs invented to buttress the self-esteem movement. Participating were a fifth-grade band (Lilly's) and a sixth-grade one, each featuring flutes, clarinets, trumpets, trombones and percussion, and made up of kids from six different elementary schools. Lilly's been a trombonist since the beginning of the school year.

The school district's high school jazz band also played. Considering age and experience, each group accorded itself well. Going in you know it isn't going to be Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall, and that shouldn't bother you.

Among other things, Lilly got to play "Ain't Gonna Rain No More," "The Victors," a version of universally recognized University of Michigan fight song , and as if that wasn't enough UM, "Let's Go Band," which seems to be an elementary-band adaptation of "Let's Go Blue."

I never knew it by that name. Back when I was in high school band, we called it "Michigan," though the association with that college was vague to us, so far removed from it. The tune wasn't anything we formally played, either. But during lulls in football games, it would rise spontaneously from certain sections of the band. One time, during a brief blackout at an away game, it really got going, which steamed our normally unflappable band director.

Another tune we noodled at times was "Swingtown," but rarely more than a few seconds. The baritones didn't actually play that. Instead, we moved our instruments in L-shaped motions to the rhythm.

At Lilly's concert, most interesting piece by the high school jazz band was a KC & the Sunshine Band medley. Well done, all things considered, and it made me want to hear a professional jazz version of it. The originals had a fair amount of brass, so the transition wasn't that strange.

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