A big band scholarship gala

A community orchestra made up of professional musicians

BRATTLEBORO — On Friday, at 8 p.m., the Vermont Jazz Center will present its 15th annual Gala Scholarship Fundraiser Performance featuring internationally acclaimed vocalist, Kevin Mahogany and guitarist, Dave Stryker. The VJC Big Band, under the leadership of musical director, Rob Freeberg is a community orchestra made up of professional musicians who come together to rehearse and prepare for this annual event. The Vermont Jazz Center Big Band will accompany Mahogany and Stryker as they delve into a repertoire of blues and classic jazz standards. All money raised from this annual gala will go directly to the VJC's Scholarship Fund. It serves as the primary funding source to assist scholarship students attending VJC's educational programs. The VJC offers an average of $17,000 in scholarships each year to help students attend ensembles, private lessons and its annual Summer Jazz Workshop.

Vocalist Mahogany is well known for both his small-group and big band performances. He has his own repertoire made up of commissioned, custom-made charts, some of which were arranged by the legendary pianist/arranger Frank Mantooth. The Los Angeles Times called him "one of the first truly gifted male vocalists to emerge in years." As an actor, Mahogany appeared in the Robert Altman film "Kansas City," where he portrayed a character inspired by Big Joe Turner. He also appeared on "Eastwood After Hours" and T.S. Monk's film "Monk On Monk."

Guest guitarist Stryker is no stranger to the Vermont Jazz Center. He has taught at the VJC Summer Jazz Workshop and performed numerous times at the VJC's Cotton Mill Studio. Stryker has twice been voted "Rising Star" in Downbeat Magazine's Critics Poll and has also been selected as one of the "Top 10 Best Jazz Guitarists" in Downbeat's Readers Poll. Still in his teens, he toured the country with the legendary organist Brother Jack McDuff and ended up in Dude's Lounge in Harlem. It was at Dude's Lounge that Stryker met tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. From 1986-1995 he played with the legendary saxophonist at major festivals, concert halls, and clubs throughout the world. The ten years playing alongside the tenor legend helped him realize the importance of cultivating his own sound.

VJC board member Rob Freeberg is guiding the VJC Big Band as its musical director, and band manager is VJC board member Sherm Fox. The members of the VJC Big Band include: trumpet section: Donald Anderson, Rick Anderson, Charlie Schneeweis, Joe Conti; saxophone section: Carl Clements, Sherm Fox, Bob Stabach, Larry Tutt, Nick Pelton; trombone section: Riley Goodemote, John Wheeler, Zach Trombley, Bob Thies; rhythm section: Julian Gerstin (percussion), Draa Hobbs (guitar), Dave Picchi (bass), Steve Rice (drums), Eugene Uman (piano).

$25 to $45 for general admission, or $30 to $50 for reservations that include reserved seating (table spaces are limited). Tickets are available at In the Moment Records, at vtjazz.org, and at ginger@vtjazz.org. Tickets can also be reserved by calling the Vermont Jazz Center ticket line: 802-254-9088, ext. 1. Handicapped access is available by calling the VJC at 802-254-9088. Admission includes a delicious and complimentary dessert buffet.


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