Community Concert Review

Review: Truth in Jazz Orchestra wows Muskegon Community Concerts crowd
Published: Friday, September 10, 2010, 2:43 PM Updated: Friday, September 10, 2010, 3:33 PM
Clayton Hardiman | Muskegon Chronicle Clayton Hardiman | Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON — So it turns out the truth doesn’t hurt after all. At least it doesn’t have to.

In fact, it can be vital, exhilarating, rewarding and inspired. And in the case of jazz and swing, it can downright sizzle.

The Truth in Jazz Orchestra kicked off the Muskegon Community Concert Association’s 2010-2011 season with a resounding bang at the Frauenthal Theater Thursday night.

Band members romped joyously through a repertoire spanning more than 80 years, invoking the spirits of such masters as Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Buddy Rich and others. It was a hands-on demonstration of how big band music, in the hands of true artists, remains as vital and alive as ever.

Judging by its reaction, the crowd — more than 1,000 strong — had a ball.

So did the musicians, it seems, which by now should come as no surprise.

The Truth in Jazz Orchestra is largely a labor of love. None of the band members, many of whom are educators with a professional performance background, seems to be looking to quit his day job. What brings them together is their passion for the music.

For all its exuberance, their playing is a study in professionalism, preparation and care. From rhythm section to brass to reeds, the band astounds in its attention to pitch, intonation and ability to swing relentlessly. And there is more than space enough for soloists to spread their wings.

Just one case in point was the orchestra’s performance of Ellington’s “Caravan.” It would have been notable just for sax player Dan Giacobassi’s cool, bluesy statement. But then drummer/music director Tim Froncek took a turn, producing a solo so spectacular and replete with special effects that perhaps a disclaimer should have been attached: No animals were harmed in the making of this concert.

Musically alone, Thursday night’s concert had to be regarded as an unqualified success. However, it also served as a significant reminder of something many of us forget about West Michigan: Artistically, our cup runs over.

When a homegrown ensemble produces music of this caliber, it’s pointless to question our good fortune. Just keep an eye on the Chronicle’s arts calendar and count your blessings.

Clayton Hardiman is a Chronicle correspondent.

Community Concert - Letter to the Editor

Almost 600 hearts are still singing this morning as a result of the tremendous performance by the Truth in Jazz Orchestra Thursday evening at the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts. And, what a treat it was to have Blue Lake Radio’s own Lazaro Vega announce the program.

The “big band” is composed of area musicians who love jazz, and who have played together for the past six years.

In terms of performance excellence, excitement and erudition, the band, led by popular Muskegon drummer Tim Froncek, equaled or excelled the “big-name” groups which have appeared in Muskegon during the past few years. The professionalism demonstrated by clean, accurate technique; the creativity embodied in programming; improvisation quality ranging from “really good” to “knock your socks off,” all came together to produce a superlative evening of jazz interpretation and musical entertainment.

Don’t miss a chance to hear this great group.

Kent Krive

North Muskegon

Muskegon Chronicle 2008 concert preview

Here is the great article written by Clayton Hardiman published in the Muskegon Chronicle on May 10, 2007:
Chronicle TIJO Article - p1.pdf
Chronicle TIJO Article - p2.pdf

Other comments from previous performances:

Letter to the Editor

Review of Grand Rapids outdoor concert