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Columbus City Band to perform jazz concert Sunday


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Photo by Greg Jones for The Republic| Columbus City Band Director Steve McGrew leads the band at Monday nights practice for Sunday's preformance at The Commons.
Photo by Greg Jones for The Republic| Columbus City Band Director Steve McGrew leads the band at Monday nights practice for Sunday's preformance at The Commons.


Bassoonist Louise Hillery likes the fact that the Christmas spirit and a creative leader will allow her to cut loose a bit at Sunday’s Columbus City Band holiday concert.

“We don’t get to play jazz very often,” she said of herself and her colleagues.

This weekend, the volunteer ensemble that attracted nearly 700 people for last year’s holiday concert will present the upbeat “Good Swing Wenceslas,” a variation of the classic “Good King Wenceslas,” as part of its seasonal fare. Director Steve McGrew took an arrangement for string bass and rewrote it for bassoons, since the local band has no bass.

“I think that every piece we’re doing just really sticks in you head and is a delightful variation on a traditional Christmas tune,” Hillery said.

The free performance at 2 p.m. Sunday at The Commons includes “an even split between the sacred and the secular,” McGrew said.

It will include “Christmas Classics,” a seven-tune yuletide medley of holiday tune fragments.

“The audience may wish to make it a musical challenge,” McGrew said.

Amid all the traditional songs, more contemporary numbers also have become audience favorites, McGrew said. They include “Chipmunks Christmas,” arranged by City Band trumpeter Shawn Bentz. A light jazz version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Teddy Bears Picnic,” a tune recorded by artists ranging from Bing Crosby to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, rounds out children’s selections for the afternoon.

On tap for others are tunes such as Mannheim Steamroller’s version of “The Holly and the Ivy” and an Irving Berlin medley to close the performance.

“We always try to keep things pretty wildly varied,” McGrew said. “Smorgasbord is a pretty good term for it because we want to have something for everyone.”

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