Big Beat is a 19-piece big band that was formed in 2014 with one purpose - to make music that sounds good and feels good. Founded by alumni of William Paterson University's vaunted jazz program, the band is steeped in the modern jazz tradition, but they refuse to limit themselves to any particular genre. Big Beat combines influences from jazz, R&B, soul, and gospel music to create an original big band sound, with innovative arrangements of songs ranging from Mulgrew Miller to Maxwell. The make you feel the groove.
caleb's role - conductor, arranger, composer, and emcee!
To describe my role in the band, we need to go back to the very beginning. In 2013, I took my first arranging and composing class. I immediately was hooked, and by the summer of 2013 I wrote my first big band chart. My senior recital was coming up, so I naturally wanted to perform my first chart. Good things come in threes, so I decided to write two more charts in three months.
While rehearsing these charts with the William Paterson University Big Band, our director Dr. David Demsey missed a few weeks of classes due to a winter cold. Suddenly, I was in charge of running rehearsals and conducting the band!
I fell in love with conducting, arranging, and composing all at once as I performed three big band arrangements on my senior recital. One of the charts was "Just Too Much", which was recorded on Big Beat's first self titled EP.
After I finished this thrilling recital, I had spare time on my hands and no band to play my charts. After about nine months without big band music, I had enough. Some of my friends from WPU had been talking about starting up a big band, and we squeezed ourselves onto stage for our first gig. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to conduct. Leading is something I love to do, and performing with Big Beat is such a huge part of that. I owe so much to my co-leaders Charlie Dougherty, Phil Engsberg, and Ryan Tomski who all work together to make sure our mission of performing fun and refreshing big band music comes to life.