Founded in 2017 by drummer Joel Baer and guitarist Chris Parsons, the Blueshift Big Band builds upon the rich legacy of Big Band music found in Chicago. Initially, the bands repertoire included selections from the likes of Count Basie, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Buddy Rich, and the Clayton-Hamilton Big Band - all the greats that Baer and Parsons hold in high reverence.
The focus of the band quickly changed from a serious reading band to one that concentrated on original music and arrangements. Armed with a number of great writers and arrangers in the band (and an emphasis on commissioning material from Chicago-area writers) the book grew quickly. With a wealth of originals in the book, it didn’t take long for the band to begin to develop their own unique voice and sound. While inspiration for these arrangements may come from Jazz Standards, Blues, and the Great American Songbook, the band has also tapped into a wealth of material a whole generation has been raised on - Video Games.
Popular music has always found a way into the greater Jazz lexicon. Baer and Parsons felt that in the past, there have been “tongue-in-cheek” approaches to how these songs have been presented. With Blueshift’s unique arrangements and approach, the band hopes to present this music in a serious, but still fun way, that acknowledges the largely unsung composers of this genre.