The Rogers Center for the Arts at Merrimack College in North Andover launches its free summer series next week with a lineup of concerts and musically inspired films that span the genres.
The 2014 Summer Series kicks off on Wednesday, July 16, with a concert by The Jazz Disciples, a nine-piece band providing the full complement of Dixieland, American Songbook, big band/swing, gospel and popular jazz styles.
On Wednesday, July 23, settle in for a film screening of “The Glenn Miller Story.” The musical biopic follows Glenn Miller’s rise from trombone player in the pit orchestra to leader of the most successful big band of his era to his untimely death as a member of the U.S. Army Air Force Band in 1944. This musical romp of a film provides audiences with a large dose of the best of Miller’s big band sound and features memorable performances by two box office stars of the time.
“Blues in the Night” — a classic “band on the road” film — is on the schedule for Wednesday, Aug. 6. The movie traces a jazz band as it travels from one small-time gig to another, always hoping for a big break, but repeatedly denied fame thanks to the band members’ personal demons. This melodramatic film reaches its climax when an unrelenting depiction of a murder/suicide retrospectively sets the tone for an exploration of the strange places music can take listeners.
Live music returns to the stage on Wednesday, Aug. 13, with a performance by Gerry Johnston. Combining his love of a variety of musical styles, Johnston has made a career out of performing selections from “The American Songbook” on solo classical guitar. His play list includes some of the great jazz and popular standards from the likes of Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Ann Ronnell, Richard Rodgers, Henry Mancini and a host of others.