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Don't be fooled by the age of Caleb Chapman's Crescent Super Band or the 17 other youth bands he produces.
The members may be 12 to 18, but their skills eclipse musicians twice that age.
"Don't think of them as kids," said the 41-year-old Chapman, during a recent telephone interview. "Think of them as some of Utah's best bands."
Or just buy a ticket to EVE Winterfest to see and hear for yourself.
The Crescent Super Band is the headlining act on Thursday, Dec. 31. Before its 11 p.m. jazz performance, six other youth bands all produced by Soundhouse, Chapman's musician training program based in American Fork will heat things up on the Salt Palace Convention Center's Big Band Stage. In all, they will offer four hours of Big Band dance music ranging from swing to Latin to pop. (See box for schedule.)
"We're pleased they'll be showcasing such vibrant and lively talent at EVE," said talent manager Kristin Beck. "One of the primary goals of EVE is to inspire play. The Big Band Stage is designed to encourage the playfulness of dance and movement."
By now you should have heard of Chapman's youth bands. Since 2005, they have received a combined 35 DownBeat Student Music Awards and have shared the stage with more than 200 artists including Grammy winners Gordon Goodwin, Joe Lovano, Poncho Sanchez, Bob Mintzer, Randy Brecker, Nicholas Payton, Esperanza Spalding, Eric Marienthal, Dave Weckl, Ernie Watts, Peter Erskine and Dave Samuels.
They have also performed and/or recorded with members of well-known bands such as Maroon 5, Dave Matthews Band, Journey, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Tower of Power, the Rolling Stones, Neon Trees and the Saturday Night Live Band.
Chapman was named the John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year by the Berklee College of Music and the Jazz Education Network in 2011 for his work directing some of the state's finest young musicians.
We caught up with Chapman to talk about EVE, how Soundhouse got its start and the new touring season. His comments have been edited for space and clarity.
Are people surprised at how many bands Soundhouse has put together?
That's what is fun about our programming, the musical styles run the gamut from salsa to Motown to soul, swing and American songbook. We're a party in a box. Our bands, especially the Crescent Super Band, perform for a lot of corporate events and charities and it's because the music appeals to all ages from kids to seniors.
How did Soundhouse get started?
It started in 1998. My wife, Alice, and I originally opened it as a music school and taught lessons. We put together a band that performed big band music and it took off. Before we knew it, students were asking to start a band that played R&B, then hip-hop and reggae. After several years, the performing took off and we were playing all over the world at places like Carnegie Hall. We stopped doing lesson in 2008 and focus entirely on the bands performing, recording and touring. We didn't set out to do it that way, it just happened. Who knew Utah had such talent?
How many musicians are involved?
We have about 250 kids. With all of our bands the kids max out at 18, so each year we shuffle in an entirely new set of kids. We spend October, November and December putting the shows together and then we start our performance season, which runs January through August. New Year's Eve will be the first performance for the new kids, and it's the first chance to see our new lineup of vocalist and soloists. So it's really exciting.
How do you select musicians for the bands?
We do auditions every September. The kids come from all over Utah, but two years ago we started to draw nationally. Now we have kids from Montana, Florida and North Carolina. The bands are so amazing that families relocate just to be part of it. That puts a lot of pressure on me, but there is a huge payoff, since 100 percent of our seniors have gotten college scholarships and are attending college for free.
Do the bands practice every day?
No. We only see the bands once a week for 1 ½ or two hours. It is surprising at how little time we spend rehearsing, especially since some performing-arts school rehearse every day. But we set up some expectations for them and there's a lot of personal practice.
New Year's Eve lineup
Caleb Chapman's Crescent Super Band headlines the EVE Winterfest Celebration on Thursday, Dec. 31.
Before its 11 p.m. jazz performance, six other youth bands all produced by Soundhouse, Chapman's musician training program based in American Fork will heat things up on the Salt Palace Convention Center's Big Band Stage.
Here's the lineup:
7 p.m., The Inevitables • This DownBeat Award-winning band is one of the most popular offerings at the Soundhouse, fusing an eclectic mix of alternative, Gypsy jazz, klezmer, swing, zydeco, Delta blues and pop.
7:30 p.m., Little Big Band • Dedicated to preserving America's rich swing tradition, it has been named the top young big band in the country on multiple occasions.
8 p.m., La Onda Caribena • An award-winning Latin Group, this band plays a wide range of styles including salsa and Latin jazz.
8:30 p.m., Voodoo Orchestra • The top young rock/blues band specializes in the high-energy jump swing and Rat Pack swagger of the '30s and '40s.
9:15 p.m., Soul Research Foundation • Bringing the funk and groove of Motown and the classic soul bands of the '70s.
10 p.m., Vicious Beat • This group plays the latest chart-topping hits from the likes of Bruno Mars, Adele and Beyoncé.
11 p.m., Crescent Super Band • Soundhouse's flagship ensemble has performed at some of the world's most prestigious jazz festivals and filled a headlining spot at the 2014 Jazz Education Network Conference. In May 2013, the band made its headlining debut at Carnegie Hall.
EVE Winter Fest
Salt Lake City will ring in 2016 with a three-day celebration of music and culture as well as a countdown to midnight with the giant MirrorBall.
When • Tuesday-Thursday, Dec. 29-31
Where • 10 venues in downtown Salt Lake City, including the Salt Palace, Clark Planetarium, Off Broadway Theatre, Broadway Centre Cinemas, Discovery Gateway, The Leonardo, Gallivan Center, Temple Square, City Creek Center and UMOCA
Cost • Three-day passes are $20 for adults and $15 for children 3 to 9; single-day tickets also are available
Details • eveslc.com