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HARMONY SWEEPS! (that's a verb)

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  • rjsharette@aol.com
    Hello Colorado A Cappellists, Which of you were on hand Saturday night for arguably the best Denver Harmony Sweepstakes evening in several years? Not to
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31, 2002
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      Hello Colorado A Cappellists,

      Which of you were on hand Saturday night for arguably the best Denver Harmony Sweepstakes evening in several years?

      Not to diminish in any way host and 2001 winner T Minus 5 and the perennial fun-makers, 17th Avenue Allstars, but the 8 competing groups were a great show in themselves. Contrary to years when it was obvious which groups would not make the cut, this year every group seemed to be in the running. I was caught up in the musical excitement all evening. Did I retreat to the lobby after any group's first number? Not a chance: I didn't want to miss a minute of the excitement.

      And the variety. You name it; whatever your favorite style of a cappella, it was well represented last night. Always a bit sorry for whoever has to open, last night's measureXmeasure, all the way from Kansas, led me to believe the show opening group would take home the award. After a bit of mic imbalance (also evident with some other acts - no fault of the performers), they gained confidence and won the crowd very quickly. At that point I thought maybe the competition was over, but I was wrong. Good Company, imported from the Western Slope, were superb and showed how great a female quintet can sound (whatever happened to Iris?). Then a stunning new group bred from Lois Petersen's Westminster HS Raging Harmonies (with a mom to spice it up!) gave their first public performance ever  as SurrounSound in front of this very discerning audience -- and they were a smash! The first half ended with a very experienced and beautifully balanced Barbershop quartet, Saturday Evening Post, who did a few of those edge tunes that "don't-qualify-for-SPEBSQSA-competition-but-everybody-loves-to-hear." I bgan to think: Maybe it's the year a bbs group could take it home? Intermission was a relief from the pressure!

      After a T-5 intermission teaser, the show continued with the group that proved to be the runner-up of the evening, and again I thought, "It can't get any better than this." Groove Society came on with a great variety of jazz to contemporary, skillfully performed and greatly appreciated. Then the other half of the bbs guys took the stage  to represent Sweet Adelines: Special Effects showed why they won the recent Aspen competition and are runner up for the 8-state regionals this year. Then came an Eclipse. No really, I think I saw one! More about that below. Ending the happy marathon of groups was a perennial favorite of mine, JazzKatz, with all the sophisticated smooth-yet-powerful sounds an excellent vocal jazz group can provide. They were a wonderful close to the evening and took home one of the four awards, this one for best original song, a lovely tune by bass Rob Baltenberger. Then came the suspense.

      Oh, but I didn't mention group 7? Well, from that point on it was all-Eclipse. The judges were impressed. The audience was impressed. I think everyone was knocked out by the skill and warmth of these guys from Utah. Frankly, their absolute mastery of the stage and audience in Denver was -- can I use the word? -- awesome. Eclipse took back to Utah the Regional Champion award and the Audience Favorite prize. This was the first Denver Sweeps I believe in the five years I've been in Colorado that the audience favorite took home the top award -- and the first one where an out-of-state group won the audience award. Correct me if I'm wrong about that.

      Afterwards, I kept thinking about the number of 'boy band producers' out there now, who are expert at synthesizing the creation of yet another Grammy-grabber. I guess I have no argument with this approach, but these guys didn't seem to glam quite enough to fit that. I'm sure curious to find out more about them -- maybe I've been missing something obvious, but these guys could have taken the stage with m-pact, the HouseJacks or a number of others, and carried the show.

      Hey, out there, tell me what you know about Eclipse. I've played their CD three times today and I'm hooked. It's got all the contemporary sounds, with well performed vocal percussion, great solos, a nice jazz harmony feeling in places (the old cliche, Danny Boy, sounds better than the King'singers version) and a 6-part blend that won't stop. I can't believe I've never heard of them.

      Were these guys up for a CARA and I didn't even notice? I'm going to head for the www.eclipsesingers.com store page and see if I can order a couple more CDs, especially for my granddaughter, Erin, who I believe will immediately trash her large collection of Backstreet Boys discs -- she's more musical than that.

      I recall meeting "Take 6"  in the 80s when they were a quintet called "Alliance" -- it was the year before they caught the "Quincy" bug and were the stars they continue to be (just about my favorite group). And they were solidly gospel at the time, but what gospel! Of course, they still are, but some of us may listen for different reasons.

      Congratulations to all the HS performers. It was a wonderful evening. They'll be some of the above in this week's Colorado Songster, along with some photos and lots of other good information.

      Rol Sharette, program director, CVJS
      Colorado Vocal Jazz Society
      Colorado Ambassador, CASA
      Contemporary A Cappella Society
      888-WIZ CVJS (949-2857)

      Rol Sharette
      program director, CVJS
      Colorado Vocal Jazz Society
      Colorado co-ambassador, CASA
      Contemporary A Cappella Society
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