Thursday December 6, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- The Vermont Jazz Center Big Band will host its 10th annual big band gala and dance on Friday at 8 p.m., at the VJC in the Cotton Mill.

For this concert, the VJC big band will perform with the legendary saxophonist Houston Person and vocalists Rebecca Holtz and Mark Anagnostopulos.

Person is renowned for his long tenure with the great singer Etta Jones. He is also recognized for his recorded work with Horace Silver, Charles Brown, Richard "Groove" Holmes, Lou Rawls and Lena Horne. 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.

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 line. In a recent interview, Person was asked if he enjoyed performing for dances. "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."

The Vermont Jazz Center Big Band is an 18-piece ensemble that performs one or two concerts a year and has been going for a decade. VJC Board member and big band organizer Sherm Fox deserves the credit for staying in contact with the musicians, arranging rehearsals and putting together the library.

The members of the VJC Big Band include: Donald Anderson, Rick Anderson, Johnny Jones and Charlie Schneeweis on trumpet; Bill Ballard, Sherm Fox, Bob Stabach, Larry Tutt and Michael Zsoldos on saxophone; Brian Bender, Dan DeWalt, Rob Skrocki and Bob Thies on trombone; and Julian Gerstin (percussion), Draa Hobbs (guitar), George Kaye (bass), Steve Rice (drums) and Eugene Uman (piano and director), as the rhythm section.

For this show, the VJC will feature two vocalists who have been mentored for many years by Sheila Jordan. Anagnostopulos is a VJC board member and also can be heard with the local group Butterfly Swing. Smith College senior Rebecca Holtz has been performing since she was a young girl. She recently presented a concert at the Greenfield Arts Block as part of Samirah Evans’ "Women in Jazz" series.

This concert would not be possible without the generosity of VJC supporters Jon and Kathy Thatcher 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 complimentary dessert 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 at 143 Main St., or by calling the VJC ticket line at 802-254-9088, ext. 1. General admission tickets can also be purchased at the door.