BRATTLEBORO â The Vermont Jazz Center’s Big Band will present their annual scholarship gala on Friday, December 3 at 8 pm. This year, the group will feature singer Amanda Carr, who has performed with the Boston Pops Orchestras, Artie Shaw and Glenn Miller, and many more.
The VJC Big Band, led by Music Director Rob Freeberg, is made up of professional musicians from the region who come together to enjoy camaraderie and swing tunes while raising money for the VJC Scholarship Fund.
The annual December gala is the centre’s only fundraiser for the VJC Scholarship Fund. Before the pandemic, the VJC awarded scholarships of $ 30,000 each year, offsetting the costs of ensembles, private lessons and its summer jazz workshop.
As described in a press release, the VJC intends to re-energize its in-person educational programs this winter by presenting a wider range of course offerings with generous scholarships as needed for all who apply; the money raised during this gala will enrich this objective.
The concert takes place both live and in person. All participants and musicians will be vaccinated, and anyone who does not actively play wind instruments or sing will wear masks. The live stream for home viewers is available at the Vermont Jazz Center website or via its Facebook Live page.
Guest singer Amanda Carr – âa Boston legend,â according to VJC director Eugene Uman – came to know the Great American Songbook through her parents, both of whom were esteemed jazz pros. His father, Nick Capezuto, toured with Glenn Miller, Louis Prima and Woody Herman. Her mother, Nancy Carr, was a house singer at the Totem Pole Ballroom on the Charles River.
Amanda Carr has performed at festivals around the world, including two headlining appearances at the EuroJazz Festival in Italy. She has released five albums under her own name, including Common Thread with the Ken Hadley Big Band.
She is the songwriter of “Strong,” a Boston anthem that lifted the spirits of the city after the Boston Marathon attacks and again during the pandemic. She has appeared as a guest singer with the Boston Pops, Plymouth Philharmonic, Artie Shaw Orchestra, Harry James Band, Glenn Miller Orchestra and many more. She also performed for many years as the frontman of a rock band and as a guest star with blues legend James Montgomery.
Seasoned veteran trumpeter Rob Freeberg leads the large ensemble, “drawing on his respect for the jazz heritage, an infallible ear, and decades of experience leading his own Big Band in the New York area. York, âUman explains.
Freeberg moved from New York to Dummerston in 2012 after retiring as group director at New Rochelle High School, where he taught for 30 years.
Musical director of the VJC Sextet, he also performs with the Windham Orchestra, its brass quintet, the Bennington County Choral Society and the Keene Chorale.
This year, the VJC Big Band is celebrating 17 years of performances thanks in large part to the âcontinued persistence and organizational effortsâ of group director Sherm Fox, Uman said.
“He’s the glue that has held the band together since 2004, taking on the drudgery of bringing together 17 training jazz cats,” he added.
The VJC Big Band – initiated by Fox and Howard Brofsky, VJC president and mentor for decades – featured Houston Person, Dave Stryker, Samirah Evans, Mark Anagnostopoulos, Rebecca Holtz, Kevin Mahogany and Eguie Castrillo.
Trumpeters Don Anderson, Rick Anderson, Ryan Kapoor, Dave Dell and Freeberg will join Carr this year; woods Michael Zsoldos, Sherm Fox, Bob Stabach, Carl Clements and Donna Morse; trombonists John Wheeler, Bob Thies, Dave Sporny and Caroline Cole; and rhythm section members Uman (piano), Wes Brown (bass) and Steve Rice (drums).
The VJC advises to book early, “because this gig always sells out quickly and the VJC only allows 50% of its capacity”. No tables are available this year to maximize social distancing and dance space.
Admission is by sliding scale, starting at $ 25. Tickets can be booked at vtjazz.org, through E-mail, or by phone (802-254-9088 extension 1). The venue can be accessed by calling the VJC to schedule assistance from a staff member.
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