Roy Coran Big Band Kicks Off New Season
Story by Matt Prokopchuk, Photos by Dana Fiorito
"T “he thing that we’re trying to show now is that a big band is not just ‘In the Mood’ and Glenn Miller, it can be so much more,” says Ted Vaillant of the Roy Coran Big Band on what the group aims to do with its concert seasons, the latest of which gets underway this month. The artistic director of the iconic, decades-old Thunder Bay group has been in his position for about 10 years now, succeeding band founder Roy Coran after his death in 2013. “We’re going to do [a] 60s [show], and we’re going to do a show at the end of the year of James Bond tunes,” he says, referring to other shows on this season’s calendar. “We’re going to do a show right after Christmas where we’re going to highlight female composers, female performers.” The group is currently 20 members strong, Vaillant says, featuring 17 instrumentalists, two singers, and Vaillant. Showcasing the band’s versatility throughout their seasons is key, as he says these days the public generally favours a concert format rather than dances with live music, as was traditionally popular for big bands or jazz bands. “We’re trying to expand people’s experiences,” Vaillant adds. The band’s first show, featuring selections of music from the 1960s (“from Motown classics to the hits of Burt Bacharach,” according to a press release) takes place at the Da Vinci Centre on November 4, and will include Nancy Freeborn as a guest performer. That will be followed by their matinee Christmas concert on December 17 at the Italian Cultural Centre. The new year will then include the aforementioned femalefocused and James Bondthemed concerts on March 2 (at the Victoria Inn) and May 4 (back at the Da Vinci Centre), respectively. And while the band works to expand the expectations of what people can expect from a big band with a lot of history, tradition, and success behind it, the group’s namesake is never too far away; during his lifetime, Coran was a prolific and celebrated musical arranger. “Over the years, we’ve tried to incorporate something by Roy in everything we do, if we can,” Vaillant says. “He wrote an arrangement of ‘Jingle Bells’ that’s been the closing of our Christmas concert for so many years now.” Single tickets to all shows are $25 ($15 for students) and available at Music World Academy (cash/ cheque only). Follow along with the band at facebook.com/ roycoranbigband.