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Strike Up the Band!


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Arranged by Sammy Nestico This PowerPoint presentation contains history of the Ira and George Gershwin, William …

Arranged by Sammy Nestico This PowerPoint presentation contains history of the Ira and George Gershwin, William
Piece Duration :3 minutes 34 seconds "Count" Basie , Sammy Nestico, and a brief review on the Basie Band.
Presentation Duration: 20-25 minutes All Powerpoints contain director notes, and resources.
Jazz Band Version

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  • Strike up the Band (1959) by Ira & George Gershwin Arranged by Sammy Nestico Piece Duration: ~3:34 Presentation Duration: 20-25 Minutes Jazz Ensemble Version
  • Strike Up the Band (1927) was originally a satire musical production written by George and Ira Gershwin. The musical was based on a book written by George S. Kaufman which tells a story of cheese tycoon named Horace J. Fletcher who convinces the United States to go to war with Switzerland to enhance his monopoly on the American cheese trade. The musical focused too much on politics, and was said to be years ahead of it’s time. The musical closed after a Saturday night performance. In 1930, the Gershwins joined together with Morrie Ryskind, an American Broadway writer, to change around the Broadway flop. The subject of cheese was changed to chocolate, more romance was added, and dream sequences were added to enhance the storyline for the musical. The musical then ran for 191 performances at the Times Square Theatre in New York. The musical was never a huge success with the audience, but the main title tune continued in American culture. “ Strike up the Band”, and other tunes from the musical, continued in American music pop culture for a long time. This tune has been used by many music artists including, Tony Bennett, Charlie Parker, UCLA Marching Band, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.
  • -Ira Gershwin was born December 6, 1896 in Brooklyn, New York. He was raised with the name Israel Gershowitz. Ira’s childhood was very quiet, and most of the time he spent at home reading. He is described as a shy, and quiet boy. Growing up he had an active part in local magazines and newspapers, and never got into the music business until 1921. In 1921, he was approach by Alex Aaron’s to write the lyrics to Two Little Girls in Blue. He decide to write the lyrics under the pseudonym , Arthur Francis. Ira did a great job that it instantly put him in the Broadway spotlight. Ira started writing lyrics for other productions. In 1924, Ira finally teams up with his brother George, uses his real name, and produce their first Broadway Musical together.
  • -George Gershwin was born September 26, 1898 in Brooklyn, New York. He was also raised with the name Jacob Gershowitz by immigrant parents from Russia. The family later changed their name to sound more American to Gershwin. At age ten, George developed an interest in music after seeing a violin recital. -George’s parents bought his older brother Ira a piano, and to his parent’s surprise and Ira’s relief, George developed an interest in playing the piano. He tried various piano teachers for years, but finally found Charles Hambitzer. He taught his conventional piano techniques, and introduced him to classical music. Hambitzer also encouraged George to attend classical concerts, and when George would go he would return home and try to recreate the music on his piano at home. -His first job was a “song plugger” in Tin Pan Alley in 1919. A song plugger was a pianist that played any tune that a purchasing customer wished to hear in a music shop. In Tin Pan Alley, which was in New York, he wrote his first popular song, “Swannee.” This tune sold over a million sheet music copies, and allowed George to focus more on musical theatre. Ira teams up with his brother George.
  • -In 1924, George and Ira Gershwin produced their first musical together Lady Be Good. Best known for songs “Fascinating Rhythm” and “Lady be Good.” After their first musical, they wrote almost exclusively with each other. The team known as “the brothers” wrote many musicals, including Crazy for You , Funny Face , Oh, Kay!, and Of Thee I Sing which won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, because of it’s American Themes. Strike up the Band was the first of the three political satires including Of Thee I Sing and Let’em Eat Cake. - Porgy & Bess (1935) is the only opera, or “folk opera” written by the brothers, and the most successful and controversial American opera of the twentieth century. Porgy & Bess was based of a novel by DuBose Heyward entitled “Porgy” which follows a crippled beggar transformed by his unexpected and improbable love for Bess. It is still performed all over the world by theatres and opera companies.
  • George Gershwin’s first major classical work Rhapsody in Blue was written in 1924 for orchestra and piano. His other symphonic work that stand out from rest of his compositions is George’s An American in Paris, written while he was in Paris studying with Nadia Boulanger (famous composition teacher). Gershwin also wrote music for movies Shortly after Porgy & Bess was finished, George began suffering from blinding headaches which ended up being a severe brain tumor. While working on a score for an upcoming musical, George collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. The hospital performed a emergency surgery on the tumor in his brain. The surgery was unsuccessful and George died at the age of 38. After George death, Kay Swift, who was famous for being the first female to score an entire musical, and also known for having a relationship with George continued some of George’s manuscripts, and collaborated with Ira on several projects. Ira continued to write after his brother’s death, and his influence on the musical change how the American musical is known today. Ira died peacefully on August 17, 1983.
  • William Basie was born August 21, 1904 in Red Bank, New Jersey, and is known as the leader of the Count Basie Orchestra developed in Kansas City, Missouri in 1936. At an early age William gravitated to the piano, and was taught by his mother, and later “Fats” Waller At age 20, William started touring the vaudeville circuits playing for various variety show acts. In 1928 he joined Walter Page’s Blue Devils, but only played in his band for a short period of time, and then moved on to the Bennie Moten Band. It was during this time with the Moten Band where William received his nickname of “Count”, which the naming of royalty in jazz goes back to the early twentieth century with the crowning of Buddy “King” Bolden. Other famous jazz royalty names are; “The King of Swing” Benny Goodman, “The King of Clarinet” Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, Major Miller, and “The First Lady” Ella Fitzgerald. After Moten’s Death in 1935 Count Basie started his own band out of Kansas City, Missouri which contained some of Moten’s alumni.
  • The Count Basie Orchestra moved to New York City in 1936 and completely turned big band music around. His music was characterized as “jumping” and emphasized by the contrapuntal accents by Count Basie’s piano playing. The Count Basie Orchestra hosted many different guest artists and performers. The Orchestra performed with such artists like Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, and Tony Bennett. Notable jazz performers that played in the Basie Band were Buck Clayton, Herschel Evans, Lester Young, Walter Page, and Jo Jones. There are many more performers, these are some that are still known today. Basie had some of the best arrangers for his music including Benny Carter, Neil Hefti, and Sammy Nestico. In the early 1950’s, due to economic strife, Basie was forced to slim his orchestra down. Performers included in his septet were Clark Terry, Buddy Rich, Frank Wess, Thad Jones, Sonny Payne, Joe Wilder, and Benny Powell.
  • In 1952, the Basie band returns with new life, new music, and new performers including full time vocalist Joe Williams (pictured). Basie, though losing key soloists through out the band’s history, continued being the premiere big band in the United States and performed strongly into the 1970’s. In 1976, Basie’s health began deteriorating after a severe heart attack, but several months later Basie was back on the performing circuit known to perform in a wheel chair. Count Basie died of cancer on April 26, 1984.
  • - The Count Basie Orchestra still performs today, and is still considered one of the top jazz orchestras in the world.
  • Sammy Nestico was born on February 26 th , 1924 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Known as a very prolific and well known composer and arranger. He did not only compose and arrange for the Basie, but for many other organizations. At age 17, Sammy became the staff arranger for an ABC radio station in Pittsburgh. At age 26, he began writing for the Basie orchestra. He also wrote for Frank Sinatra, US Air Force Band, and the US Marine Band during his career. Some of the famous Basie arrangements that Sammy wrote for the Basie Orchestra are “Strike Up the Band”, “The Queen Bee”, “Ja-Da”, and “The Heat’s On.” Sammy Nestico also wrote music for movies, television, and commercial jingles. Nestico still composes, arranges today, and travels the world as a guest artist, and is being featured in a documentary entitled “Shadow Man”.
  • In 1936, the Gershwins rearranged, renamed, and dedicated “Strike Up the Band” for UCLA, today the band still performs it during their football pregame show. Political overtones are what closed Strike up the Band , was it ahead of it’s time? - Gershwin songs are always being performed on American Idol. Fantasia in season three sang “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess , “Someone to Watch Over Me” by Katharine McPhee in season five, and Melinda Doolittle sang “I’ve Got Rhythm” from Girl Crazy in season six. Gershwin’s music has been redone or rearranged by almost every genre of music including Rock, Classical, Jazz, and Rap. - Count Basie appears in a short clip in Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles.
  • Resources Cited
  • Transcript

    • 1. Strike Up the Band! Words by Ira Gershwin Music by George Gershwin Arranged by Sammy NesticoCreated by John Sierakowski (2008)Northern Illinois University Northern Illinois University 1
    • 2. History of the Composition• 1927 “Strike up the Band”• 1930 “Strike up the Band”• Today’s “Strike up the Band” Northern Illinois University 2
    • 3. Ira Gershwin• Israel Gershowitz (1896)• Quiet Childhood• Two Little Girls in Blue (1921)• The Gershwin Brothers (1924) Northern Illinois University 3
    • 4. George Gershwin• Jacob Gershowitz (1898)•Piano Lessons•Song Plugger•“Swanee” (1919)•The Gershwin Brothers (1924) Northern Illinois University 4
    • 5. George & Ira Gershwin• Lady Be Good• The Brothers• Strike Up the Band• Porgy & Bess Northern Illinois University 5
    • 6. More Gershwin• More Music• July 11, 1937 George Gershwin’s mausoleum• Kay Swift• August 17, 1983 Kay Swift Northern Illinois University 6
    • 7. William “Count” Basie • William Basie (1904) • Blue Devils & Moten • Jazz Royalty• Moten’s Death in 1935• New York, and later years Northern Illinois University 7
    • 8. The New York Years and On…• Basie in New York City• Various Jazz Artists & Performers• Basie’s Arrangers• Basie Septet Northern Illinois University 8
    • 9. More Basie• Count Basie Returns…• Still performing!• Basie Dies Northern Illinois University 9
    • 10. The Count Basie Orchestra Today Northern Illinois University 10
    • 11. A Count Arranger…• Sammy Nestico (1924)• Arranging Music• Basie Arrangements• Other music• Nestico Today Northern Illinois University 11
    • 12. Related Information• UCLA• Political Overtones (today?)• Other Gershwin compositions• Interesting Facts Northern Illinois University 12
    • 13. Resources Cited• Hyland, W.G. (2003). George Gershwin: A New Biography. Connecticut: Praeger.• No Author (2007). Count Basie. Retrieved January 2, 2008 from• No Author (2007). George Gershwin. Retrieved January 2, 2008 from• No Author (2007). Ira Gershwin. Retrieved January 2, 2008 from• No Author (2007). Ira Gershwin. Retrieved January 2, 2008 from• No Author (2007). Strike up the Band. Retrieved January 2, 2008 from• No Author (2008). Sammy Nestico. Retrieved March 2,4 2008 from• Official Website of George & Ira Gershwin (2008). Retrieved January 2, 2008 from• Pollack, H. (2006). George Gershwin: His Life and Work. Los Angeles: University of California Press. Northern Illinois University 13