The Joe Gransden Big Band

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Credit Carla Hoff Photography

Joe Gransden & his Big Band present a “New York City Preview” on Friday, June 28th at the Eagle Theatre in Sugar Hill. The 16-piece Big Band will perform favorite jazz classics from Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Elias Marsalis and others. Formed in 2009, the band has become one of the busiest on the jazz scene, performing numerous shows around the country. Get to know Joe and learn more about his love for jazz and the history of the band in our Q&A below.
Interview by: Gia Scheels

Q: Where are you from?
A: I’m originally from New York City. I grew up in Buffalo NY.

Q: How did you get into music and end up playing the trumpet?
A: I got into music because of my family. My father is a great jazz piano player, my grandfather was a wonderful professional trumpet player, my mother was a choreographer. Jazz was always on the radio in our house. From John Coltrane to Count Basie everyday day I was exposed to this great music!

Q: Why jazz music? What do you love about jazz?
A: I always loved the creative side of being a jazz musician. Improvising solos, composing, coming up with musical arrangements on the spot were all traits that I was attracted to and wanted to learn. Of course, the sound and feeling of swing is the most important factor that brought me to Jazz.

Q: Who were some early inspirations at the start of your career?
A: Growing up I was really into the trumpet sounds of Bobby Hackett, Miles Davis and Chet Baker. I would listen to their recordings every day and try to emulate them on my trumpet. I was also a big fan of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, but I didn’t start singing until my early twenties.

Q: Do you remember your first gig? What was it like?
A: My first professional gig was a one-year tour playing 4th trumpet with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra! We traveled to Europe, South America and all over the United States! It was an amazing experience and I learned so much about playing music on that tour. It was my 1st experience with a full Big Band and was the reason why I formed my own band years later.

Q: Tell us about the “16 Piece Big Band”.
A: I Originally formed the band in 2009 and we have continued to build momentum and are performing shows around the country. The band is set up just like the famous Big Bands from back in the day such as Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie etc… We have 5 saxophones, 4 trombones, 4 trumpets, piano, bass, drums, guitar and I sing as well as play the trumpet.

Q: How did you meet your bandmates?

A: When I put the group together, I wanted to have the “Best of the Best”! I looked for musicians that could read music on the highest level, improvise, show up on time and were just a thrill to be around. Most of the band was filled with musicians I was already freelancing with around the Southeast!

Q: How did you transition from emulating other artists to finding your own sound?
A: This took me a while. I was well, into my 30’s before I felt that I had “My Own Sound”. It took years of practice, soul searching and simply living life to find my vibe and how I fit into all of this.

Q: What motivates you to spread the love of jazz and swing music? What brought you to Sugar Hill?
A: My concerts at The Eagle Theatre in Sugar Hill are part of a wonderful collaboration with the Broad Street Jazz Band (based in Sugar Hill). We share the same values with regards to this music and we all feel that bringing more Jazz/Swing to the area can only be a positive element that this community can offer its residents! Coming to one of our shows is a fun experience. There’s a little something for everyone. We will have you singing and tapping your toes all the way home!

We have several concerts coming up:
• June 28th
• Sept. 25th
• Dec. 12th

This music has given me so much!
Joy, fulfillment, confidence and Independence are just a few words that come to mind.
I want everyone (especially band students) to experience the thrill of swing music, the discipline it takes to learn and grow in this genre and the community you feel and get from being a part of a Big Band, Orchestra, Jazz Combo, Wind Ensemble etc…

Q: If you could introduce someone to jazz with one song, what song would you recommend?
A: I would have to pick two songs if that’s ok. Miles Davis “So What,” and Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to The Moon.” Both have all the elements needed to help you fall in love with this amazing Art Form!!

To purchase tickets to the upcoming performance at the Eagle Theatre in Sugar Hill, visit: https://www.eagleatsugarhill.com/events/live-from-new-york-concert/

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