Volume 5 / Chapter 168
[TN: Jun has some fun…]
NEC is the only music school that has been chosen as an American history monument. Its main concert hall, Jordan Hall, is just 1 block away from Boston Concert Hall.
When Tara led Jun Hyuk into Jordan Hall, reporters holding cameras came swarming at them.
“We couldn’t avoid this. We need to reveal every part of your schedule on the homepage, and we alert last minute changes to your schedule through social media. Maestro! Smile.”
When Tara quickly spoke in hushed tones, Jun Hyuk sighed and forced a smile. His awkward face was captured with camera flashes.
“Please push the questions back for after the concert. There is not much time left until the concert… Then excuse us.”
Tara got rid of the reporters and went into the concert hall. Even in this short moment, Tara’s working capabilities showed. She cannot prevent the reporters from showing up, but she had kept Jun Hyuk in mind to show up with just enough time before the concert to have his picture taken but not to go through interviews.
The orchestra was already in position on the stage. The members were tuning their instruments.
Jun Hyuk settled in a seat all the way in the back of the audience.
“Maestro, there is a seat waiting for you in the front.”
“Let’s just listen from here. It looks like today’s program is jazz, but the brass instruments drown the other sounds out. This concert hall has a reputation for having a good sound system… And it’ll be fine here since they have mic equipment as well.”
As Jun Hyuk said, over 20 people were preparing as a big band to perform jazz. For string instruments, there were only the electric guitar, electric bass, and contra bass. The majority of the rest were saxophones, trumpets, and trombones.
Jazz originating from New Orleans is usually done with a band made up of one person on each instrument. Then it started to take the form of popular music with wind instruments in the 1920s. This band is a classical orchestra that is used to playing music like waltzes, so they pushed out all of the members and boomed with those who could play popular music. Thus, the birth of big bands.
Even until then, jazz was not music to listen to but music to dance to.
Especially with the Prohibition Era, symbolized with Al Capone and the illegal underground Cotton Club.
These underground clubs wanted music for the mood in addition to alcohol, and big bands performed music that was exactly fitting for this setting.
In this atmosphere, the unique exotic flavor ‘jungle sound’ was showcased or a capable soloist was put at the front to fuse the music’s unity and jazz’s freedom. With improvisation however, all that was done was to show a bit of it at a designated period.
Since there are a lot of performers, it is difficult to go into improv, the zest of jazz, for 10 minutes. Generally, they perform to the movement of the conductor’s baton.
When the big band’s conductor came out, the audience broke out in cheering and applause and Jun Hyuk’s expectations also rose. It is the big band’s jazz that he had heard on albums a few times. However, it is the first time he is watching a performance for himself.
The students performing wearing jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies rather than dark suits was familiar to Jun Hyuk. He felt awkward as the only person wearing a suit.
When the conductor’s baton moved, a light drum started and the brass instruments rang loudly throughout the theater.
“Ah, well… Ha ha.”
As soon as the introduction started, Jun Hyuk laughed quietly. The song that the big band is performing is Jun Hyuk and Stanley Clarke’s improv ‘The First’ album.
A song that was played on just the piano and bass has been arranged to fit a big band. They inserted a new melody at times and there were a few changes, but it is an arrangement that shows the record’s sound.
It was a performance that fit almost exactly with the album’s running time. After over 40 minutes, the audience clapped and yelled for an encore.
After the conductor calmed everyone down, he took the mic.
“Ah ah. Was the performance okay?”
When the conductor laughed and greeted the audience, they responded with applause again.
“I’m sure you all know well, but this song was made on just the piano and bass. It was a bit difficult to arrange.”
The conductor coughed 2 times and kept speaking,
“There is a very special guest here today. He created a buzz in the world of classical with music that is like noise and has become the visiting conductor of our Boston Philharmonic with it. He has the title of a young genius without exaggeration. Maestro? Forget it! To us, he is just an envious guy with the sexiest pianist girlfriend in the world, the person who has gifted us with minimalist jazz beats, brought together metal heros of the past, and is a jazz and rock and roll star. The name?”
The conductor held the mic out to the audience and everyone yelled,
“JUN! JUN! JUN! JUN!”
Jun Hyuk had not dreamed that this kind of scene would occur. He was confused with this situation, so Tara whispered in his ear.
“Go up on the stage. I can’t predict with kids…”
Tara tsked and closed her mouth, pushing Jun Hyuk. She remembered that Jun Hyuk is in the same age group as the students.
When Jun Hyuk rose from his seat and walked down the pathway, the students in their seats held their hands out. Jun Hyuk took turns giving each a high five as he approached the stage.
When he went on the stage, the conductor holding the mic ran and embraced him. It is an action that does not fit the Boston atmosphere of not showing emotion. Jun Hyuk was passed the mic and the applause exploded again.
Hearing the shout, ‘Jang Jun Hyuk!’ he could tell that there are a few study abroad students in the audience. Tara was just hoping that Jun Hyuk would not say anything weird. There are a fair amount of reporters in the seats. She could see that quite a few of them already had their voice recorders out.
Jun Hyuk held the mic and had an awkward look.
“Shit. If I had known this would happen, I wouldn’t have worn a suit.”
The audience burst out in laughter at Jun Hyuk’s light joke.
“Aren’t you honestly thinking that you’d rather have my girlfriend Amelia on this stage?”
The audience cheered again.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen as well… but American people start with a great joke and great language, but I’ll just speak with music.”
Jun Hyuk gave the mic to the conductor, took his blazer off and put it on the stage floor. Jun Hyuk went to where the orchestra is sitting and asked the guitarist to borrow his guitar. Then, a concert staff member ran up to bring him an electric guitar.
The students already saw that Jun Hyuk’s guitar playing skills are incredible on YouTube, and started screaming.
Jun Hyuk put the guitar on and the staff hung a wireless jack on his belt. Jun Hyuk went to the conductor and after a few words, the conductor seemed surprised and smiled brightly, nodding.
“Check the sound now. You need to record this perfectly. There can’t be even the slightest mistake. Everyone got it?”
The music director’s urgent instructions flowed out through all staff members’ headsets.
There was even a stand mic on the center of the stage. When Jun Hyuk saw the mic and looked embarrassed, the conductor brought the audience to applaud him again.
With the clapping, reporters got up from their seats and ran out to the front of the stage. From seeing the mic, they had a feeling that they would get a scoop today.
Jun Hyuk tuned the guitar for a moment, shook his head, and stood in front of the mic.
When the intro flowed from the guitar, they realized that it is a music that is entirely unexpected.
If it is someone who has ever listened to music, the intro of classic rockabilly tunes is that of a legendary rock and roll song.
It is The Beatles John Lennon’s ‘Rock’ n Roll Itself’. It is Chuck Berry’s song.
Chuck Berry is such a legend that it is not an exaggeration to say that he is the completion to rock n roll. He had a profound impact on musicians like Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones.
The Beach Boys, called America’s pride to take on the Beatles, even plagiarized one of his songs.
The Beach Boys’ top hit song ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ (1963) is a plagiarism of Chuck Berry’s song, ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ (1958).
Jun Hyuk’s intro is ‘Johnny B. Goode’ from the movie ‘Back to the Future’.
When the guitar intro was over, Jun Hyuk took the mic and started singing,
“Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans,
Way back up in the wood among the evergreens….”
He stopped at just 2 verses. Because the students in the audience were following along, the passion did not go down even if Jun Hyuk stopped singing.
Jun Hyuk’s improv started with the guitar solo part. The big band took care of a simple chord, and he played various melodies with the guitar. When the roles changed and Jun Hyuk’s guitar and the strings started scratching out chords, the trumpet and saxophone showed a new tune.
Jun Hyuk scratched the guitar strings as he admired the school jazz band’s impressive skills. The band showed perfect synchronization as if it had become one instrument, and the conductor did not stop leading them as though playing one great instrument.
However, there is a lot of difficulty for a band of over 20 people to continue an improv performance. Their limit was a little over 10 minutes. When the big band’s chord started squeaking, Jun Hyuk gave the conductor a look to signal ending the performance with the drum’s cymbal.
Jun Hyuk took the guitar off of his shoulder and shook the conductor’s hand. Jun Hyuk thought that this was much better than holding a conversation with the students, and slipped backstage while the audience shouted for an encore. Tara saw this and also rushed to run backstage.
“Maestro, go back out on stage and respond to the applause. I will take care of the encore.”
While Jun Hyuk went out and greeted the audience again, Tara told the staff that they cannot stay for an encore because of the next item on their schedule.
Tara and Jun Hyuk left the concert hall once he came backstage again.