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Friday, June 21, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

"Big Band, Small Set"

The Max Weinberg Big Band could have played another two hours and still left the audience begging for more.

Max Weinberg showed his eclectic nature in every song he performed at the Center for the Arts this past Friday night. He went from the works of Bruce Springsteen to John Lennon, and back to the big band orchestrations of tunes by Frank Sinatra

Weinberg has experienced a very successful career. From being a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band to recently lending his talent to Conan O'Brien's late night television talk show, Weinberg is a name synonymous with talent. Performing on such albums as Born in the U.S.A and Born to Run, Weinberg is certainly an important part of American music history.

Weinberg put on a great show for all in attendance with his over-the-top antics that kept the audience members both interested and entertained in between songs. He spoke of personal idols, as well as his apparent love for crime-based television shows. The 15-piece band laughed along and encouraged Weinberg's fun loving personality.

Throughout the duration of the set, no single band member was without recognition. From the quality of their playing to the chemistry they shared, it was clear that each member both wanted to be there, and deserved to be.

There was a song for everyone in the audience, which ranged from young children to college students and the elderly. Amongst the songs performed that night was one of Weinberg's most well recognized numbers, "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

In addition to its usual repertoire, Max Weinberg Big Band also put on a medley of three Beatles songs in jazz and big band style as a tribute to John Lennon's birthday.

One of the highlights of the night, however, occurred when there was a duel between two saxophone players, aptly named "Rat Race." In this duel, the two performers went back and forth exchanging challenging speeds and rhythms of soloing. "Rat Race" was both exciting and riveting for everyone who witnessed it.

Hailing from the tri-state area, saxophonist Brandon Wright of Max Weinberg Big Band is a talented musician with great promise. Throughout the band's performance, Wright looked incredibly happy to be part of a band with such a renowned reputation.

"[Playing with the band] is a great experience," Wright said. "Max is part of my youth. Growing up I watched [Late Night with Conan O'Brien]."

Although the entire set was in big band and jazz style, Weinberg's other influences were also on display. As a drummer, he maintains a tight but loose feel to his beats, which some musicians refer to as a pocket. The ability to lead a whole band by drumbeat is surely Weinberg's specialty.

During the band's set, the crowd was rather quiet, but only because they were so impressed by the band's sheer talent. Weinberg consistently asked for the lights to be turned on so he could "see all of those beautiful faces." He also made conversation with the crowd, and responded to people's side comments.

An altogether tasteful and very well orchestrated show, the Max Weinberg Big Band was one performance that won't soon be forgot by the Buffalo natives.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com


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