Reviewing one such big band, The Secret Society, Johnson writes that the first album shows the influence of rock band Radiohead and modern classical composer Steve Reich. New York Times critic Ben Ratliff wrote about the Secret Society in 2006, saying that they were clearly trying to “make contemporary sense.” Despite a distinct modern sound, Ratliff also noted that the band took stylistic and compositional cues from jazz greats Charles Mingus and Bob Brookmeyer.
In March, Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Band premiered “The Rolling Stones Project,” 12 classic Rolling Stones songs rearranged as jazz pieces by Matt Harris and Tim Ries, a saxophonist who had toured with the Stones.
The concert gave the music of the rock band the Rolling Stones a “jazz makeover,” the school blog reported. Director Fred Sturm explained that the students would go beyond simply covering the songs: “we’ve re-casted them with fresh harmonies, unique rhythms and the power and colorful shadings of an 18-piece jazz ensemble.” He and co-director Patty Darling felt that the concert would help students learn how to engage contemporary audiences.
But in 2006, Allan Kozinn for The New York Times wrote that classical music was not declining in popularity. The numbers indicate that although education in classical music might have waned, new recordings continue to be released and sell quite well.