Jive Concerto is an unusual musical adventure for brass replete with toe-tapping rhythms, jazzy harmonies, vivid colors, and a panoply of surprises. The slang term “jive” has several meanings: 1. (adjective) playfully or humorously deceptive or misleading 2. (noun) Swing music of the 1930s and ’40s 3. (verb): 1. to tease, banter, jest; 2. to dance in a fast and energetic way.
Jazziness, deception, and jest are all present in Jive Concerto.
Despite being a “march”, the first movement is probably the jazziest of the three. One way to perform it is to have the tuba begin alone on stage. Then the others enter, skipping (= slip-step) as they snap their fingers (opening riffs must then be played from memory) and march to their places. At the end, the tuba may be left alone on stage again as the other players steal away (or: the tuba leaves…).
The title of the second movement, “Jive Blues,” is misleading: it does not use the traditional 12-bar blues structure at all. Instead, the listener is treated to various musical experiences using a bluesy feeling as a vehicle.
In movement 3, it is time for some pure fun: brasses go ‘country’, play banjo and fiddle licks. Some slower, more evocative sections punctuate the hoedowns. A quick quote from the March is slipped in at the end for one last surprise.