New sounds for the big band

Apr. 24, 2014 @ 09:48 AM

In the music of Revive Big Band, swing rhythms and instrumental solos, the core language of jazz, fuse with the rhythms of funk, rhythm and blues, soul, and the word play of hip-hop. This 18- to 20-piece band has performed tributes to the music of late rapper Guru, and arranged tunes by composers like Freddie Hubbard and Wayne Shorter.

The band will perform Saturday at Diamond View Park during the two-day inaugural Art of Cool Festival. The band is made up of musicians around the New York area, many of whom went to school with trumpeter Igmar Thomas, who started the band and writes all the arrangements and original compositions for Revive.
Revive Big Band began in 2010 when Thomas held a jam session to allow younger players and seasoned veterans a chance to hear each other. Trumpeter Nicholas Payton came to one of those jam sessions, and eventually the promoter George Wein asked the band to perform at one of his festivals. Thomas later wrote his first big band charts, received encouragement from other musicians, and more performance opportunities came through, he said.
The band has worked with Payton, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, and pianist Marc Cary. Rapper Raydar Ellis also has worked with Revive, and will be onstage with the band Saturday. Thomas is a member of Cary’s band, and composes for his own smaller ensembles. (Some of his compositions are “Trane Thang” and “Art of War.”)
“I’ve always participated in big bands,” he said, and he likes to think of Revive as an extension of that type of ensemble, encompassing the music of his generation. “We’re definitely rooted in that tradition,” he said of jazz, “but it really has no boundaries and is rooted in American culture.”
Crossing over to different styles is by no means new. Thomas cites Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane as musicians in the jazz tradition who incorporated Latin sounds (Gillespie) and Indian music (Coltrane) in their work.
Saturday, audiences might hear some arrangements of Marc Cary, Gillespie, and some of the Guru tribute, he said. On Friday, he plans to sit in with Mark de Clive-Lowe at the Durham Arts Council. “I’ll be bounding around,” Thomas said of the festival.


WHAT: Revive Big Band at Art of Cool Festival
WHEN: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
WHERE: Diamond View Park at American Tobacco
ADMISSION: For tickets, visit