The Big Beat Lays it Down


The Big Beat, which was formed over 25 years ago, plays hard-bop jazz. — Photo by: Michael Pucciarelli

Original March 8, 2011 Issue 12

By: Klara Cachau-Hansgardh

Staff Writer

The Big Beat, which was formed over 25 years ago, plays hard-bop jazz. -- Photo by: Michael Pucciarelli


Professor Ward Harris and The Big Beat perform Hard-Bop Jazz at the Music Recital Hall

The Big Beat is the latest band to be featured in the Faculty Jazz Series hosted by Montgomery College’s Music Department. The Big Beat, a hard-bop jazz oriented group, performed Feb. 22, in front of an enthusiastic audience at the Music Recital Hall on Montgomery College’s Rockville Campus.

Professor Ward Harris, professor of music at Montgomery College and bassist for The Big Beat, believed the event was a success.

“The audience seemed very receptive,” disclosed Harris.

Harris discerned the existence of a connection with the audience when performing hard-bop jazz.

“You don’t really have to know much about it,” said Harris of hard-bop.

According to Harris the hard-bop style of jazz originated as an extension of be-bop. Whereas be-bop made jazz complex and cerebral, in Harris’ opinion hard-bop brought accessibility back to jazz music.

Harris explained that the Faculty Jazz Series provides exemplary opportunities for Montgomery College students to experience live Jazz. Harris elaborated that the series was particularly beneficial for students taking music as an elective, as they may not pursue such an experience otherwise.

John Vieira, a student of Harris’, attended the concert and noted the convenience of the faculty series.

“I would have paid a lot of money to see this,” stated Vieira.

The Big Beat was formed at Virginia Tech in 1983. Bob Offutt on the trumpet and Mike Morrison on the drums were among the original members. Over the years The Big Beat has grown to include Harris, Wayne Hovis on the saxophone and Jim Moulder on the piano.

The next event in the Faculty Jazz Series is a Faculty Jazz Recital on April 19 at 7:30 p.m. The concert will be held in the Music Recital Hall in the Music Building, admission is free.