Auditions are starting up for RazzmaTazz’s second season, and the choir is looking to bring more soulful songs, blues tunes and jazzy renditions of classic pop hits to the stage.
Local musician Dale Rasmussen, who is the founder, director and accompanist of the group, said he started the choir last year as a way of reimagining songs by the likes of Elton John and the Eagles with more jazz and swing elements.
“I often find that sometimes, the music I’m interested in doesn’t often get performed in choirs,” he said. “When you think of choirs, you think classical music or sacred music or sometimes old folk music, and I wanted to try to expand on that and do the music that I love.
“I thought, I’d like to start something that’s a little different from anything else here.”
While the group does perform more traditional standards by such legendary composers as George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Oscar Peterson, he said they’re known more for their unique takes on songs from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
“We take some older songs by The Beatles, we combine a Cole Porter song with a Queen tune, we’ve done Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi,” he said.
Rasmussen said the group’s first season started strong and featured a wide age range, from members in their mid-20s into their 60s.
“There’s a lot of closet musicians and singers in the area, and they all came out of the woodwork,” he said.
Though the group didn’t have a name at the start of auditions last year, they brainstormed and came up with RazzmaTazz – a clever name that didn’t pigeonhole them into just doing jazz tunes.
“As soon as somebody mentioned it, I thought, that’s good because it plays on my name and it sounds fun and it doesn’t have the word ‘jazz’ in it, so we can branch out a bit,” he said. “If we want to do that Queen and Cole Porter thing, the jazz police aren’t going to get too worried about that.”
Now, with 30-some members in the group, Rasmussen is looking to add a few more before rehearsals begin in September. He has auditions scheduled for Aug. 29 and 30, as well as Sept. 12., though accommodations can be made for singers who can’t make those dates.
Those interested in joining should have some previous singing or choir experience and sight-reading ability, but Rasmussen said he doesn’t want potential hopefuls to feel intimidated by the audition process.
“All it means is we talk a little bit, and before then, I send them a short segment of music along with audio files for them to learn, and they come and they sing it,” he said.
Rehearsals and sectionals are held Monday evenings from Sept. 14 to May 16 at Lambrick Park Church, 1780 Feltham Rd. A handful of shows have been scheduled for the upcoming season, with the possibility of additional performances.
For more information about auditions, rehearsals and the 2015-2016 calendar, visit dalerasmussen.com and click RazzmaTazz Jazz Choir under Choirs. To set up an audition, call Rasmussen at 778-533-0406 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.