What do you get when you take an accomplished vocalist from a famous singing family, partner him with the one-time touring saxophonist from the rock band Neon Trees, and add a 16-piece big band filled with young, dedicated musicians?
You get the Osmond Chapman Orchestra. Not to mention one heck of a great musical time.
The Utah-based Osmond Chapman Orchestra — fronted by David Osmond and led by bandleader/sax player Caleb Chapman — will perform at 7 p.m. Oct. 7 in Peery’s Egyptian Theater in downtown Ogden. The evening is part of the Excellence in the Community series, which offers monthly concerts in various Utah cities, including Ogden.
Admission to the Monday evening concert is free.
In a recent telephone interview from his home in the Utah County town of Cedar Hills, Osmond — nephew to Donny and Marie Osmond and lead singer of The Osmonds 2nd Generation group — said the Osmond Chapman Orchestra’s repertoire mixes new arrangements of classic tunes from the Great American Songbook with big band re-imaginings of more recent pop hits.
The band’s set list mixes swing tunes, current pop hits, crooner classics, Broadway, blues, American standards, rockabilly and more.
“We call it kind of the ‘New American Songbook,’” Osmond said. “Not to be too presumptuous, but those big band standards are timeless, and we put all-new fresh arrangements to them. But then we also added more recent songs from artists like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake.”
Osmond says they’ll also perform a few originals as well.
“We’re not just a cover band,” he insists.
Osmond and Chapman have been dabbling with the idea of this band for a couple of years now. The only problem was, both were already committed to other projects. As a result, Osmond says the two had been like “ships passing in the night,” for years, on the local music scene.
“And we crossed paths a ton,” Osmond said. “But a friend of mine kept saying his name to me. He kept said, ‘You guys have to get together.’”
Eventually, Osmond relented and called up Chapman, saying, “Dude, we’ve got to talk.”
It turned out that the two men shared a love of standards by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. And while Osmond has done everything from Broadway to pop to barbershop, he sensed that big band was going to be his next phase.
“My very first album I owned was Frank Sinatra,” Osmond explained. “I love that music. (Chapman and I) just saw eye-to-eye and started doing these little shows together.”
It grew from there.
The Osmond Chapman Orchestra recently finished recording its first album, and Osmond said they’re in the process of getting it released sometime in the next year.
“We’re trying to take this to the next level,” Osmond said. “He’s super busy, I’m super busy, but we’re trying to find the time to make this work.”
Chapman founded Caleb Chapman’s Soundhouse in American Fork, a music performance studio for youth and adult musicians. The Osmond Chapman Orchestra draws from this pool of talent, according to Osmond.
“These players are the best of the best,” he said.
Osmond says it’s hard to beat the raw power in the wall of sound that a big band creates — it simply can’t be replicated on any album.
“There’s all this brass behind me, hitting me in the back,” Osmond said. “There’s something about that audible energy you can’t get from a record. And I get to stand right in front of it. With those 16 guys behind me, you feel that brass.”
Osmond says some of his favorite moments at these big band concerts are “watching the audience watch us.” He loves that the shows attract a broad cross-section of ages, and that people often get up spontaneously and start dancing.
These days, OCO is doing about a dozen concerts a year, according to Osmond. By this time next year, they hope to be doing the big band thing full time.
Osmond, who has been an understudy for Uncle Donny on Broadway and has filled in on shows with his Aunt Marie, says he has a lot of contacts in Las Vegas, and the OCO band is hoping for some sort of residency down there in the coming years.
In 2006, Osmond was diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis, which has landed him in a wheelchair periodically over the past 13 years. Osmond’s father, Alan, the oldest of the performing Osmonds, also has a form of the disease.
Osmond says he lives with the disease “every day of the year, every second of the day,” and he has no other way to describe it than “a crushing, burning, smashing pain.”
Still, Osmond remains optimistic, and counts his blessings.
“I know how bad I have been with it, how much worse it could be,” he said. “It’s a day-to-day struggle on a lot of levels, but I’m walking. I can drive a car. Knowing all that, I have friends who, in my mind, are going through much more difficult things.”
Osmond encourages folks to come to the Oct. 7 concert.
“It’s a free show,” he said. “It would be a fun date night. You’re going to have a great time. If you haven’t seen a big band show, come out. You’ll enjoy it.”