Harvey brings big band to the Westside Bowl

Stephen Philip Harvey is calling his jazz orchestra’s Saturday concert “Ballads & Bops!”

Considering the new music he is working on, a more appropriate name might be “Ballads & Bops! Bams! Ka-Pows!”

Harvey earned his master’s degree from Youngstown State University in 2016 and released his debut album, “Suite Childhood,” the same year. His next project will be an instrumental jazz album inspired by superheroes and comic books.

Harvey said he’s written pieces like “Vigilante,” which he described as dark and wistful with a minor-key melody; “Projectile Dysfunction,” in which he wants it to sound like the different instruments are shooting notes at one another; and “Zephyr,” a song about flight.

“It’s super fast, weaving in and out, but not necessarily super complicated,” he said.

A couple of those pieces will be played Saturday at Westside Bowl along with “Georgy Porgy,” a ballad Harvey wrote after his grandfather’s death, and original arrangements of the standard “My Funny Valentine” and “First Love Song,” a piece by composer Bob Brookmeyer.

“Most of the music will be original, either my songs or my arrangements,” he said.

Harvey’s band will include Bobby Selvaggio, Chris Coles Max Schlenk, Chris Rudzinskas and Brady Amerson, reeds; Jim Weltman, Andrew Wegierski, John Blinsky and Daniel Patrick, trombones; Tim Coyne, Joe Badaczewski, Justin Randall and Kyle O’Donnell, trumpets; Alex Ayers, piano; Anthony Kunovic, guitar; Vinny Vivacqua, bass; and Dustin May, drums.

Harvey now lives in Maryland, where he is choir director at Wicomico High School and and adjunct instructor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, so the band performs infrequently enough locally that he has to gather available musicians for each gig

“Before World War II, big bands could make tons of money and keep the same roster. It was a full-time job,” he said. “The way modern big bands work, every gig is see who’s available.”

Harvey credited Dave Morgan and Kent Engelhardt, two of his YSU / Dana School of Music professors, with helping to shape his current career path.

“Dave was really helpful in teaching me to be a better writer, giving me examples, giving me people to listen to,” Harvey said.

Engelhardt led the YSU Jazz Ensemble in Harvey’s second year there, and Engelhardt regularly featured Harvey’s work in the ensemble’s concerts.

“By the end of the year, I was writing for the band and had enough to record that album.”


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