Four Freshmen, Chicago Jazz Orchestra join forces
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media November 24, 2010 3:46PM
FOURFRESHMEN AND THE CHICAGO JAZZ ORCHESTRA
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 4
Where: North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville
How much: $45 and $55
Contact: 630-637-7469 or visit www.northcentralcollege.edu/showtix
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Jazz fans will get a special holiday treat when two of the oldest, most respected jazz traditions around perform in Naperville.
The Four Freshmen and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra will perform together Dec.4 at North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall.
Founded in 1948, The Four Freshmen is a vocal harmony band that influenced countless groups like Take Six, Manhattan Transfer and the Beach Boys. Now in its 22nd incarnation, the group has received multiple Grammy award nominations and has racked up a string of hits. It continues to tour with its distinctive sound, performing 70 to 100 dates a year.
Composed of Chicago’s top musicians, the Chicago Jazz Orchestra is the Second City’s oldest professional jazz orchestra in continuous operation and one of the oldest jazz repertory orchestras in the country.
The two groups together will surely create a memorable concert experience.
Having joined the Four Freshmen in 2001, trumpeter Curtis Calderon is still the newest member of the group. He was playing at a jazz club in San Antonio when lead singer Brian Eichenberger heard him. Calderon passed gave him his CD — and didn’t hear a word for three years. When the groups’ former trumpet player retired, Eichenberger remembered “that guy from San Antonio” and Calderon got the call up to the majors, as it were.
Each member not only sings, but plays an instrument — usually more than one instrument, in fact.
He says the pairing with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra is not unusual — they play with symphonies or big bands six or seven times a year. It’s an experience they look forward to, he said.
“If the band is great, it’s awesome,” he said.
Although he hasn’t heard the Chicago Jazz Orchestra in years, he’s excited about the chance to play with them.
“Chicago’s got an enormous amount of great musicians, so it should be a phenomenal big band,” he said.
Audiences can expect to hear Christmas music, as well as the big hits and the recognizable songs from the 1950s and ’60s, when The Four Freshmen were at the peak of their popularity.
Although the group has been together for 62 years — a feat not achieved by many other acts — the Four Freshmen are still popular and engaging to a new generation of jazz and vocal fans.
“I think it’s just a very interesting sound. It grabs a lot of people’s attention,” Calderon said. “I think the sound is interesting enough and unique enough to warrant to continue on all these years. Musically, I think we have a very high-quality group. ”
The lads make sure they entertain the audience as best they can, he said, with jokes, stories and music.
“Whether they are into jazz or singing, they will still enjoy the music,” he said. “Even if jazz isn’t their style, they will still have a good time and will be impressed with the quality of the singing. Whether they keep coming back or not, the main thing is they will have a good time.”