Colorado’s Front Range, from Fort Collins to Colorado Spring is fortunate to have an abundance of marvelous jazz musicians and an amazing array of jazz education programs with highly qualified instructors. One of the brightest spots on the map is the University of Northern Colorado at Greely which boasts an excellent faculty and talented students. Their annual jazz festival brings some of the most prestigious names of jazz to conduct workshops and play alongside the students and faculty musicians. The UNC Jazz Lab Band I under the direction of pianist/educator Dana Landry’s latest release is the masterful recording of The Romeo and Juliet Project. One of the more impressive aspect of this recording is Dana’s decision to tell the eight composers of the nine songs to write completely original music and not to base their compositions on any of the previous music written for Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev or Tchaikovsky resulting in a completely new rendition of the timeless story of two star-crossed lovers.
The Romeo and Juliet Project is a captivating musical adventure from the opening downbeat to its concluding coda. The UNC-Greely Lab Band I has a stellar line up of faculty and student musicians as well as a few stand out invited guests such as the brilliant trumpeter, Greg Gisbert. The song line up commences with The Feud continuing to This Kiss, Fortune’s Fool, the Death Scene and Epilogue with other selections among the afore mentioned. Although each song is free standing and enjoyable on its own, when you hear the entire Romeo and Juliet Project from start to finish you will experience a thrilling theater of the mind musical play. William Shakespeare, the legendary writer of Romeo and Juliet states to perfection: “If music be the food of love, play on!”