John Tesh looks so natural fronting a band even if it is a 12-piece big band orchestra. His speaking voice and stage presence has been honed by many years of television and radio work. Fifty plus years of practicing, playing, and performing music has turned him into an award-winning musician. However, it is his wit, his humor, enthusiasm and his humbleness that makes him stand out.
John’s jokes, singing, and piano playing was enhanced by the exceptional 12 piece orchestra. The band included a lively, entertaining horn section featuring trumpets, saxophones, flutes, and more. There was also a rock solid drummer, a wonderful stand up bass player, and a solid guitar player. Yes the band journeyed back to Tesh’s roots covering plenty of classic big band jazz tunes.
He opened the show with the classic Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler song “I’ve Got the World on a String.” Next was the Ruiz classic “Sway.” The Mexican song had a strong Latin rhythm. After the third classic song “Beyond the Sea” John showed the performance would be more than just covering classic jazz songs. He performed “Barcelona” a piece he composed for the 1994 Olympics. However, he rearranged the tune for the big band. He followed this with a salute to his home town: ”Garden City.”
Tesh and company jumped right back into the classics with “The Way You Look Tonight.” Then he performed a big band version of his “NBA Theme for NBC.” During the song he had a kid from the audience come on stage and dribble an autographed basketball. Before the kid left the stage he had a t-shirt and iPad. The night was filled with playful banter from Tesh as he connected with his fans. He finished what he thought was the first set with the Harriot/Harris classic “L.O.V.E.” He then set they would take a short intermission. However, he came back and said that was a mistake.
John started the rest of the night with an almost spoken word song “Old School Life.” The song was humorous comparing life a long time ago to now. This was followed by the Meier/Mercer gem “Summer Wind.” Next was probably the musical highlight of the evening. The band stretched out a beautiful intro into to Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies.” John performed his beautiful romantic song “Give Me Forever (I do).” The audience loved his Glenn Miller inspired version of “In the Mood.”
The last original tune of the night was “Spanish Steps.” They wrapped up the night with Henry Mancini’s “It Had Better be Tonight.” After the band said good night the horn section exited the stage playing “When the Saints Come Marching In.” The horn section moved up the aisle of the pavilion playing as they went and finished the song on lawn which had to be a treat for the folks in the lawn.
There was no opening act. The concert was over in 105 minutes. John Tesh and company filled those minutes with fun, playful banter, classic jazz sounds, new musical pieces, and rediscovered Tesh classics creating a fun evening for all!
John Tesh played one night at Wolf Trap at The Filene Center – 1551 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. on Sunday, July 22, 2012. To view upcoming events at Wolf Trap, check out their calendar.