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An Evening of Enduring Music and Song

"MJO's Simply Swingin' with Sinatra and Friends."

It will be a memorable evening for the golden age of pop standards and tin pan alley as the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra (MJO) and vocalist Steve Lippia bring the Great American Songbook to life at George Mason University's Center for the Arts. It will feature music that has "depth and weight ... the kind of event that will stay with you long after it's over," said Jim Carroll, MJO artistic director.

The Great American Songbook is the short-hand name for the influential and well-loved popular songs of the mid-20th century. The enduring music and lyrics were written for Broadway shows, Hollywood films and touring artists. They were songs about love and life, with a rhythm and rhyme all their own.

Where and When

"MJO's Simply Swingin' with Sinatra and Friends" at Center for the Arts, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax. Performance: Saturday, Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets: $24-$48. Call 888-948-2468 or visit cfa.gmu.edu. Note: Youth discount tickets are half price for youth through Grade 12.

You can expect "music at its finest .... it's everything mixed into one delicious gumbo. It's both pop music and high art ...The main thing is it swings! And swings hard," said Carroll of the "MJO's Simply Swingin' with Sinatra and Friends"

Carroll indicated that the evening would "open up with the MJO doing some swingin’ featuring the guys in the band. Steve Lippia and his conductor Steve Sigmund, who toured with Ray Charles, will join for the last tune of the first half and continue through the second half of the performance."

"The MJO is comprised of the finest musicians in the Metropolitan area; hence the name "Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra." The group is "a big band typical in the hey-day of backing up folks like Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Mel Torme." Today the singers might be Harry Connick Jr., Michael Buble and Jane Monheit.

Steve Lippia is an in-demand vocalist who has performed throughout the world. Lippia said he wanted to not only present songs "for those who readily remember them, but also to introduce a whole new generation to the timeless standards and spirit" of the Great American Songbook.

The songs, lyrics and musical arrangements have a "very distinctive style with nuances ... great elements. The lyrics are like poetry and great stories for the listener," added Lippia.

In his interaction with the audience, Lippia plans to tell anecdotes about some of the songs. I want people at ease and emotionally involved, like being in a living room together, not just a big hall."

"Great music, great arrangements, great players, great singing, a great time," Carroll said.