As jazz became ubiquitous in mid-century America, it rode the rising wave of television into many households on a weekly basis. Following years of the genre’s successful use in film soundtracks, producers turned to the uniquely American sound to establish recognizable theme songs of regular TV series.
No matter where the dial was turned, jazz was there. It buoyed programs such as “Mike Hammer,” “Route 66,” “Perry Mason,” “Peter Gunn,” “The Saint,” the first “Bill Cosby Show,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” “Mannix” and “Mission: Impossible.” Even cartoons got in on the act with themes for shows like “Top Cat,” “The Jetsons,” “The Flintstones” and “Spider-Man.”
As the jazz genre grew to encompass funkier tones in the fusion era of the 1970s, TV followed suit with classics like “Sanford and Son” and “Barney Miller.” When Bob James’ melancholy tune “Angela” was employed as the theme song for ABC’s “Taxi,” it became one of the first hits of the emergent Smooth Jazz charts.
The Mystic Order of the Jazz Obsessed (MOJO) will wander through the channels with a look at some of the tunes and composers who brought these unforgettable melodies to everyday life in the U.S. The program is Monday, Nov. 23, at 6:30 p.m. in the friendly confines of Gulf City Lodge (601 State St.) in Mobile.
The ensemble bringing life to the selections will be Jarvis Wright, Jerron Snell, Mark Craig and Fred Hunter. The program is coordinated by Dr. Raoul Richardson.
Entrance is $12, $10 for students and military and $8 for MOJO members. Entry includes a light jambalaya dinner, and a cash bar is available.
For more information, call 251-459-2298, email [email protected] or go to mojojazz.org.
Bella Voce holds holiday show
Founded in 2007 by vocalist Joyce Sylvester, Bella Voce has brought together “beautiful voices” from around the Mobile Bay area to enrapture music lovers in regular concerts. The organization’s goals are to bring “cultural education and entertainment to the public, as well as musical education and cultural enrichment through singing classical and traditional music with a focus on excellence in interpretation and performance.”
To that end, Bella Voce will present its 9th annual Christmas concert, “Christmas Gift,” on Sunday, Dec. 6, at 4 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (4051 Old Shell Road) in Mobile. Promotional material states the concert program will include works by Vivaldi, Morley, Adam, Rutter and Powell.
Bella Voce Musical Director Dr. Thomas Rowell will conduct the 19-member chorus. Rowell is also noted for his work in the music department at the University of South Alabama. Gwinelle Allums will be assistant conductor. They will be joined by pianist Jennifer Bemis, harpist Rebekah Atkinson, flutist Brianna Smith and bassist Rod Newsome.
While admission is free, tax-deductible donations are greatly appreciated. For more information, call 251-414-8194 or email [email protected].
New opera digs are big hit
Word has been circulating that response to Mobile Opera’s “Pagliacci” performances at The Temple on Oct. 23 and 25 was enthusiastic. It was the first venture in the building since the announcement they were moving locations due to various factors, such as the cost of utilizing the Mobile Civic Center Theater and perhaps its imminent demise.
“We had a full house on both Friday and Sunday and I have not had a single negative report on it. I’m over the moon on it,” Mobile Opera Director Scott Wright said.
His only quibble was the lack of slight elevation at the back of the general seating area. He said a few were peering around heads to catch the stage, but it was a minor thing.
“It was wonderful it had that kind of response because I don’t fancy myself a director, but with the change of venue and not really knowing what to expect I needed a director who would be completely tolerant of me, and I don’t know anyone who’s as tolerant of me as I am,” Wright laughed.
He said the balance of singers and orchestra worked wonderfully. Other reports had the singers coming out to mingle with the crowd after the performance, something rarely seen in more traditional theatrical venues.
“Having the thrust stage that was out close to the audience, having the lack of a proscenium, the curtains to separate things right up close, it was a real special deal. We’re very pleased,” Wright said.
There was only one unavoidable issue: the reduced capacity dented attendance.
“I regretted having to turn people away and a lot of those people that got turned away were students. They get credit as well as to see the show and that’s what a lot of our walk-up has been, and I regretted that we were unable to accommodate them,” Wright said.
The smaller space, however, resulted in ticket sales making up a larger percentage of production costs. Wright estimated that while those costs used to represent roughly 18-20 percent of production costs, they nearly doubled for this show to 33 percent.
The next show is Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” on April 1 and 3. Ticket information is available at mobileopera.org.
“We had a blast. The tables that we had, that was really well received. Our nice comfy seats we bought, they liked that. Everything about it was a great evening and I’m looking forward to another one,” Wright said.