Jazz singer Cheryl Fisher, of Sylvan Lake, is among the artists who will perform with the RDSO at the Christmas and All That Jazz concert. (Contributed photo).

RDSO and friends perform some joyful, jazzy carols for the holidays

Jazz artists Cheryl Fisher, Eric Allison, Morgan McKee and others are featured

The Red Deer Symphony Orchestra is joining forces with five dynamic jazz artists to put a joyful ‘ting-a-ling-a-ling’ into the Christmas season.

The classical RDSO musicians so enjoyed performing at the Sylvan Lake jazz festival a few years ago, they jumped at the chance to take the stage again with vocalist Cheryl Fisher and saxophone, flute and clarinet player Eric Allison — as well as pianist Morgan McKee, drummer Jon May, and bassist Jeremy Coates.

When McKee put the joint concert proposal forward, the RDSO’s music director Claude Lapalme’s quickly responded with “I have a date for you!”

Their Christmas and All That Jazz concert on Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Red Deer College Arts Centre, features orchestral arrangements of beloved contemporary Christmas carols. Everything from Sleigh Ride and It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas to Gordon Lightfoot’s soulful Song For A Winter’s Night is on the program.

Lapalme’s personal favourite will also be played: Mel Tormé’s Christmas Song (better known for its opening line — “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”)

The orchestral arrangements were created by Lapalme with a few complexities to make them more interesting for the audience to hear and musicians to perform. Nothing too unusual, said Lapalme, just a some quick notes in places where long, held notes are more expected.

The concert, which also includes two baroque Christmas opening tunes, should put audience members into a “happy Christmas mood” — or at least provide an antidote to seasonal grouchiness, he added, with a chuckle.

In the talented jazz lineup is Cheryl Fisher, a Sylvan Lake resident, billed as “one of the greatest female singers in the history of Canadian jazz” by the Montreal Jazz Festival. Her six CDs have been praised for originality, emotional depth and technical excellence. Her latest, Quietly There, received a Global Music Award.

Allison is an inductee in the South Florida Jazz Hall of Fame and was voted Best Jazz Artist by readers of the New Times in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. The composer and arranger has released three CDs in his three-decade career as a professional musician, composer and arranger. He co-organizes the Sylvan Lake Jazz festival with his wife, Fisher.

McKee’s been part of Alberta’s music scene for a quarter century as a performer, clinician, musical director, composer and arranger. The Berklee College of Music graduate has performed across North America and in China.

May, also a composer and recording artist, has played it all — from jazz to avant-garde rock to country — while touring with various bands across North American and Europe.

Coates has more than 20 years of experience. He’s performed with Calgary and Edmonton symphonic orchestras, toured the world, and been part of large musicals (Wicked).

Limited tickets are available from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.


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