Packard big band plans ‘Jingle Bell Swing’ matinee

The Big Band Sound of Packard will serve up a matinee edition of “Jingle Bell Swing” this year.

The concert, a collaboration between the big band and vocalist Helen Welch, first was performed at Packard Music Hall in 2009, and for nearly a decade it has served as a complement to the full W.D. Packard Concert Band’s Christmas concert.

This year, instead of scheduling the concert on a Friday night, the band will swing on Sunday afternoon.

“We were noticing a lot of our Sunday audience wasn’t coming out, maybe because it gets dark so early this time of year,” said Thomas Groth, executive director of the W.D. Packard Concert Band. “We thought we would move it to Sunday for one year and see if we get more people. We’re trying it for a year and then making a decision for the future.”

Welch, who regularly performs with the Big Band Sound of Packard and the W.D. Packard Concert Band, released her first Christmas CD last year, called “Home for Christmas.”

She has described the annual concert as featuring, “Everything from Motown through to ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.’ The difference is, when you hear it with a big band, it adds a whole new dynamic. Everything’s more swinging, contemporary. If they like Michael Buble and Natalie Cole, they’ll like this.”

Groth said one new addition to the set list is a big band arrangement of the Chuck Berry holiday tune “Run, Rudolph, Run” created by alto saxophone player Richard Bartunek.

“It’s kind of a big band, shout thing,” Groth said. “It’s a really good chart.”

Santa Claus also will make an appearance, he said.

Before last year’s concert, Welch said, “It’s my favorite Christmas show of the year. The Big Band Sound of Packard is such a powerhouse of a big band, and there’s this amazing atmosphere because everyone likes each other, which makes a huge difference. They’re very well rehearsed and organized by Dan Carioti, the band leader, and it just makes for a recipe for success.”