BRATTLEBORO -- On Friday at 8 p.m., the VJC Big Band, directed by Rob Freeberg, with guest vocalist Kevin Mahogany, present the annual Big Band Gala at the Vermont Jazz Center in the Cotton Mill.
This is a dance concert, and more than half the floor will remain open for people to move to the sounds of the VJC’s 18-piece orchestra. According to allmusic.com, Mahogany’s "swinging style is reminiscent, but not derivative of Joe Williams." Newsweek Magazine called Mahogany "the standout vocalist of his generation."
Born in 1958 in Kansas City, Mahogany was tutored at the Charlie Parker Foundation and graduated from Baker University with a bachelor’s in music, English and drama in 1981.
Mahogany recorded three albums with Enja, before signing with Warner Brothers. His self-titled Warner debut received a host of accolades including Newcomer of the Year (Penthouse) and the first of four nominations as #1 Jazz Singer of the Year (Down Beat Critics Poll).
Mahogany appeared in the Robert Altman film "Kansas City," where he portrayed a character inspired by Big Joe Turner. He appeared on Eastwood After Hours, a Clint Eastwood ensemble project performed and recorded live at Carnegie Hall. He also made a guest appearance on Monk On Monk, T.S. Monk’s tribute to his father. He received the Downbeat Male Vocalist of the Year Award in 2000 and, in 2003, Mahogany, Kurt Elling, Jon Hendricks and Mark Murphy, toured as The Four Brothers.
The Vermont Jazz Center Big Band will accompany Mahogany as he delves into blues and classic jazz standards. The Big Band is a professional community orchestra of musicians who come together and rehearse to prepare for this annual event.
The money raised from this event helps the VJC scholarship fund and will assist in complementing the $10,000 matching funds from the Thompson Trust.
This year’s musical director is trumpeter/conductor Rob Freeberg who recently moved to Southern Vermont from New York, where was the musical director at New Rochelle High School, had his own professional community band, won awards from the NY State Music Association and conducted a youth orchestra at Lincoln Center.
The members of the VJC Big Band include: trumpet section -- Donald Anderson, Rick Anderson, Charlie Schneeweis, Steve Sontag; saxophone section -- Bill Ballard, Sherm Fox, Bob Stabach, Larry Tutt, Michael Zsoldos; trombone section -- Dan DeWalt, Michael Pallas, Rob Skrocki, Bob Thies; rhythm section -- Julian Gerstin (percussion), Draa Hobbs (guitar), Dave Picchi (bass), Steve Rice (drums) and Eugene Uman (piano).
This concert is supported by Dianne Gallo and Steve Lieberman.
The event is dedicated to the memory of Keith Maillard, a jazz lover who served on the VJC board before his untimely death.
Make reservations early as this concert usually sells out. Admission, which includes a dessert buffet, is $25 general or $30 for reservations that include reserved seating. Purchase tickets at www.vtjazz.org, at In the Moment Record Store, 143 Main St.,, or call the VJC ticket line at 802-254-9088 ext. 1. This event is handicapped-accessible.