BRATTLEBORO >> The Brattleboro Area Jewish Community marks the holiday of Purim this year with "Purimpalooza," a costume party open to everyone, starring jazz vocalist extraordinaire Wanda Houston and Brattleboro's own jazz master pianist Eugene Uman, along with several other local performers on Saturday, March 19, from 7 to 10:30 p.m. at the Vermont Jazz Center.

All-ages admission to the show is by free-will donation, allowing those of all economic circumstances to attend. There will be light refreshments (including the traditional Hammantaschen — cookies shaped like the villain's hat) and locavore beer for purchase from Brattleboro's Hermit Thrush Brewery.

"Purim is the most joyous of all Jewish holidays," said Cantor Kate Judd of BAJC. "We celebrate the story of Queen Esther, who saved the Jews of Persia from being slaughtered by the King's evil henchman, Haman. We can learn a lot about the amazing things that happen when one person drops her disguise and stands up to evil. Because it's a topsy-turvy comic story, it's a must to wear your most identity-bending costume, to drink some celebratory beverages, to sing, dance, and to have a good time. It's also traditional to give food on Purim, so you are invited to bring a non-perishable food donation for the Groundworks Collaborative as well."


"We are thrilled that Ms. Houston and Mr. Uman will grace our stage with their world-class duo," said BAJC President Daniel Kasnitz. "Others performing include Cantor Judd, Jesse Lepkof, Chelsa Roy, Stephan Brandstatter, Mel Shakun, Judith Reichsman and myself. We will have plenty of Bruegger's bagels and home-baked goodies."

Wanda Houston sings jazz with authenticity and passion; she is a storyteller as well — coloring the spaces between her songs with tales of her youth and the trials and tribulations of life on the road. She has shared the stage with Oleta Adams, Patti Austin, Eartha Kitt, Liza Minelli, Pattie Labelle, Joe Cocker, Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand. She is excited to venture into the world of Jewish music.

Accompanying Houston is pianist Eugene Uman, well known for his work as director of the Vermont Jazz Center and leader of the Convergence Project.