APPLETON, WIS. — Mick Jagger and Keith Richards may finally get that “satisfaction” they famously sought in song.
The music of the iconic rock band Rolling Stones gets a jazz makeover when Lawrence University presents the U.S. premiere of “The Rolling Stones Project,” a collection of 12 Stones’ classics arranged for large jazz ensemble by New York saxophonist Tim Ries and Los Angeles arranger Matt Harris.
The Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble and Lawrence Jazz Band, under the direction of Fred Sturm and Patty Darling, respectively, present “STONE AGE: Music of the Rolling Stones” March 12 and 13 at 8 p.m. in Stansbury Theatre. The concert is free, but due to limited seating, tickets are required and are available through the Lawrence box office, 920-832-6749.
“This program is going to be played all over the world in the next few years, and we’re thrilled to launch it here in the states,” said Sturm, director of jazz and improvisational music at Lawrence.
The concert will include such Jagger-Richards classics as “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Paint It Black,” “Ruby Tuesday,” and “Wild Horses,” among others.
“We won’t be imitating the Stones’ recordings like a ‘cover’ band would,” said Sturm. “Instead, we’ve re-casted them with fresh harmonies, unique rhythms and the power and colorful shadings of an 18-piece jazz ensemble. But fans of the Stones will still be able to recognize the tunes.”
The concert owes its genesis to Ries, a composer and saxophonist who played in the Rolling Stones’ horn section on their “No Security” tour in 1999. In a bout of experimentation, Ries decided to add a jazz arrangement to several Stones’ songs, resulting in the 2005 album “The Rolling Stones Project: Music Of The Rolling Stones.” A second follow-up disc, “Stones World,” was released last October.
Sturm and Ries crossed paths in 2003 after Sturm was named the recipient of the prestigious 2003 ASCAP/IAJE Commission in Honor of Quincy Jones. For the premiere of his work “Abstract Image” in New York City, Sturm assembled an all-star ensemble of jazz luminaries, including Ries, who appeared as the featured saxophonist.
Fast forward to 2008 when Ries collaborated with Sturm’s long-time friend and Eastman School of Music classmate, composer/arranger Matt Harris. Harris expanded Ries’ Rolling Stones projects into 12 orchestrations for large jazz ensemble. Ries first performed the Harris arrangements last October with Denmark’s Kluvers Big Band, one of Europe’s top professional jazz ensembles.
In preparing for the concert, Sturm and Darling exposed their students to recordings of the original Rolling Stones renditions, the Ries and Danish versions as well as treatments that were recorded by artists ranging from soul singers Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, pop star Britney Spears and jazz great Oscar Peterson.
“Performing and arranging classic and contemporary pop music is an important focus of the Lawrence jazz department,” said Darling. “Our students need the tools and vocabulary to explore the music of their own time. We’re examining process very closely, articulating how jazz players and composers can reconstitute any piece of music in their own voice.”
“Jazz musicians have been fascinated with standard tunes going back to Tin Pan Alley and the American Popular Songbook of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s,” Sturm added. “Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and other jazz greats have recorded their own treatments of the ‘New Standards’ in contemporary pop music. In that same creative spirit, we’ll be putting our own interpretive stamp upon these great Rolling Stones hits.”