By Anthony Stoeckert
Peter and Will Anderson make a big sound with a small group.
The saxophone-playing twin brothers lead a quintet that plays various styles of music, but has a special knack for the music of big band legends such as Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie.
”That’s part of what’s in our heart. Even though we’re coming in with a small group, we kind of have the big band sounds in our ears,” says Will Anderson. “We’ve always been influenced by those big bands.”
You can hear that influence when the Peter and Will Anderson Quintet perform during the 25th JazzFeast, Princeton’s annual celebration of music and food at Palmer Square, Sept. 18.
The Anderson twins are 29, and discovered big band music when they were high school students in Bethesda, Maryland.
”Our public high school had a great music program, and we had several other musicians that were in the band with us go on to forge professional careers,” Will says. “It was a high-level environment. That was important to us.” Another important step was discovering the music of Louis Armstrong when they played in a youth jazz band.
”There was a lot to offer, being in the D.C. area,” Will says. “I think beside that, when we listened to pop music on the radio and then when we turned on the recordings from big bands, something about 1940s jazz clicked with us, very early on.”
When it’s suggested that it’s interesting how two young people would connect so passionately with big band music that was created decades before they were born, Will is quick to note, “We’ve got similar genes.”
Something else that contributed to their love of jazz was growing up near Washington D.C. and hearing military bands of the army, navy and air force.
”Just these incredible, full 18-piece big bands,” Peter says. “All these musicians are in their full military garb, and they’re swinging and playing great. So when we first saw that, we knew that we wanted to play professionally. D.C. was great, and then when we got to New York, jazz is no better any place else on the planet.”
The brothers formed their quintet about three years ago. Playing with them is drummer Phil Stewart; pianist: Jeb Patton; and bass player: Neal Miner.
”It’s going to be a jazz quintet and we’re going to be playing some American Songbook standards,” Will says. “We’re going to be playing probably some bossa nova classics, maybe a few New Orleans tunes. A little of everything, and we’re going to be sure to feature all of the musicians in the group. And my brother and I will be playing various reed instruments: saxophones, clarinets and flute.”
Peter says writing and performing music with his brother creates an interesting dynamic.
”In music, if you have a band together, you work very closely, you travel together, you write the music together, you rehearse together, performing,” he says. “We have a unique relationship and it really makes our group a lot stronger. We have similar musical tastes, so we get along that way. We know each other really well so we can, for lack of a better word, predict what the other is going to do. I think we have a great musical synergy together.”
JazzFeast will begin at noon with a concert by Alan Dale and the New Legacy Jazz Band. The Chuck Redd Quintet will perform at 1:15 p.m. Spanglish Fly will play at 2:30, followed by the Anderson brothers’ quintet at 3:45 p.m. The day will wrap up with a performance by Professor Cunningham and His Old School, starting at 5 p.m.
When it comes to food, attendees will be able to taste paella, Korean pork tacos, grilled clams, samosas, crepes, pizza, and much more. Among the vendors offering food for sale will be Chez Alice Gourmet Café and Bakery, D’Angelo Italian Market, Jammin’ Crepes, Mediterra, Mehek Fine Indian, Nomad Pizza, Princeton Soup & Sandwich, Thomas Sweet Chocolate, Tico’s Eatery & Juice Bar, Tiger Noodles, Tiger’s Tale, Triumph Brewing Company, Winberie’s and Yankee Doodle Tap Room.
For more information, go to palmersquare.com.
By Anthony Stoeckert