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Cosmopolitan Jazz Orchestra plays it loud and proud

A program filled with new jazz material


Cosmopolitan Jazz Orchestra

With special guest Mallory Chipman

Saturday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre

8426 Gateway Blvd.

Tickets: $25 adults, $10 students. Call 780-432-9333 or at


One of the great things about writing music is knowing there are passionate professional-level musicians giving their utmost.

Such is the Cosmopolitan Jazz Orchestra, founded four years ago by former St. Albert trombonist Allen Jacobson. Jacobson’s focus is original-contemporary compositions, and the standard 18-piece orchestra is rapidly developing a reputation for being technically polished and full of vitality.

“Initially they learned so much repertoire and learned it so quickly, I realized it was a great vehicle to introduce guest artists,” said Jacobson, cultural manager at La Cité Francophone.

The orchestra, which also includes St. Albert alto sax player Barth Bradley, is putting on the season’s fourth concert on Saturday, March 16, at Old Strathcona Performing Arts Centre.

This concert’s special guest is vocalist-songwriter Mallory Chipman, a rising star in Canadian jazz. Although she’s earned widespread acclaim as a jazz artist, her music is a cocktail that mixes the grittiness of rock and the poetic lyricism of folk.

A talent in her own right, Chipman is also former senator Tommy Banks’ granddaughter. Banks was one of the musicians who laid the groundwork for Edmonton’s jazz scene. It is through this connection that Jacobson extended Chipman an invitation to perform with Cosmopolitan.

“I had been going through some old charts at the archives and I saw Tommy’s handwritten notes on some of them. His father Ben had been one of Cosmo’s founders and was the accountant for years. Tommy had a long tie-in with Cosmo.”

Jacobson had performed with Banks years ago and relished the idea of coming full circle, playing with the legendary bandleader’s granddaughter.

“I saw it as a part of community outreach and broadening the audience. Plus it was an excellent opportunity to develop new repertoire and make new friends.”

Chipman’s repertoire includes several tunes from Nocturnalize, her award-winning 10-track album filled with original material. Several crowd favourites are Sister to Sister, Ode to the Unsung Diva and Vermilion Moon.

She also scats during Derek Plunkie’s composition North Sea, inspired by his trip to Europe.

“It’s a great combination and collection of Mallory’s songs. It’s not only her rich voice, but her understanding of jazz is superb and she’s an excellent composer.”

Jacobson encourages his musicians to step into the limelight as soloists delivering spirited and ear-catching playing. Bradley on alto sax plays a beautiful solo in the romantic My One and Only, arranged by Finnish composer Ed Partyka.

“It’s a gorgeous arrangement. It’s like a tone poem.”

Jacobson, who spent close to 20 years performing and teaching in Europe, also added German composer Peter Fulda’s Beloved, to the program.

“It’s very simple, but the melody is gorgeous. And it’s very dramatic. It’s a challenging, interesting piece. Although it’s simple in structure, it’s very powerful to play.”

The program also incorporates U.K.-based saxophonist-composer Julian Argüelles’ Phaedra. In Greek mythology, although Phaedra was married to Theseus, she fell in love with his son by another woman.

“This piece is rarely played. It’s very fresh material. As far as I know, it’s never been played in Edmonton or Canada. That’s what I pride myself on – introducing new material.”


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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