The Vermont Jazz Center Big Band Gala and Dance Featuring Houston Person
The Vermont Jazz Center Big Band will be hosting its 10th annual big band gala and dance on Friday, December 7th at 8:00 PM. For this concert the VJC big band will perform with the legendary saxophonist, Houston Person, and vocalists Rebecca Holtz and Mark Anagnostopulos. Houston Person is renowned for his long tenure with the great singer, Etta Jones. He is also recognized for his masterful recorded work with Horace Silver, Charles Brown, Richard “Groove” Holmes, Lou Rawls and Lena Horne. Mr. Person’s recorded output as a leader includes 75 dates with such heavy hitters as Ron Carter, Joey DeFrancesco, Russell Malone, Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton and Paul Chambers.
Houston Person’s sound is big and breathy, tasteful and polished. He is an obvious choice as a foil for vocalists because he knows exactly the perfect moment to insert a burnished line; his timing is impeccable and his tone, gorgeous. In a recent interview, Mr. Person was asked if he enjoyed performing for dances. His reply, “The music that I perform was originally conceived of as music for dancing. I’ve been playing dances all my life, so when I see dancers responding to my notes with their own movements it gives me great pleasure and encourages me to dig deeper. I’d rather play a dance than a concert venue!”
Be sure to mark your calendars and polish your dancing shoes to prepare for this fun evening. The Vermont Jazz Center Big Band is an 18-piece ensemble that rehearses for and performs one or two concerts a year. It’s hard for the VJC’s organizers and musicians to believe that the big band has been in existence now for a decade. So it’s time to celebrate and salute the band’s longevity and quality. VJC Board member and big band organizer, Sherm Fox deserves all the credit for staying in contact with the musicians, arranging rehearsals and putting together the extensive library.
The individual members of the ensemble deserve tremendous credit for their abilities, musicality and for their commitment of time and talent to the Jazz Center. The members of the VJC Big Band include: trumpet section: Donald Anderson, Rick Anderson, Johnny Jones, Charlie Schneeweis; saxophone section: Bill Ballard, Sherm Fox, Bob Stabach, Larry Tutt, Michael Zsoldos; trombone section: Brian Bender, Dan DeWalt, Rob Skrocki, Bob Thies; rhythm section: Julian Gerstin (percussion), Draa Hobbs (guitar), George Kaye (bass), Steve Rice (drums), Eugene Uman (piano and director).
For this special show, the VJC will feature many of the strong soloists from within the group as well as two vocalists who have been mentored for many years by the illustrious singer, Sheila Jordan. Mark Anagnostopulos is a VJC board member and also can be found with the local group called Butterfly Swing. Smith College senior, Rebecca Holtz, has been performing ever since she was a young girl. She recently presented a concert at the Greenfield Arts Block with Samirah Evans’ “Women in Jazz” series.
The repertoire for this swing dance will include works by Duke Ellington such as Sophisticated Lady and Concerto for Cootie in order to feature soloists Houston Person and Don Anderson. Attendees will dance to the music of Count Basie (Every Day I Have the Blues), and to the ballads made famous during the 1930s and 40s such as Moonlight in Vermont, Embraceable You and In the Wee Small Hours as well as up-tempo numbers like Sweet Georgia Brown, Goody Goody, and Jump Jive and Wail.
This concert would not be possible without the generosity of VJC supporters Jon and KathyThatcher and Jeff and Kate Teitel who have underwritten the musician’s fees. The VJC is also grateful to the Hampton Inn, the Brattleboro Reformer, the Vermont Arts Council, VPR and WFCR.
Admission, which includes a delicious and complimentary desert buffet, is $25 general or $28 for reservations that include reserved seating (table spaces are limited so call early.) For local high school students, there is a special fund available to subsidize admission. Purchase tickets online at www.vtjazz.org, at In the Moment Record Store in downtown Brattleboro, or call the VJC ticket line, 802-254-9088, ext. 1. General admission tickets can also be purchased at the door. This concert is handicapped accessible, but please call in advance (802 – 254 - 9088) if someone in your party will require the use of an elevator.
Purchase your tickets early. It is anticipated that this exciting dance concert will sell out quickly! Dance the night away at the Vermont Jazz Center’s Big Band Gala on Friday, December 7th!!!