The American Jazz Repertory Orchestra makes its Pittsfield debut on July 2 with a concert at First United Methodist Church that features big-band renditions of Jazz instrumentals, plus a tip-of-the-hat to “the great American song book.” Sponsored by Berkshires Jazz, the 16-piece big band will be supplemented by Berkshires Jazz All-Stars, comprising local standout soloists including Charlie Tokarz, Gary Miller, Andy Kelly, and Vikki True.
The program will be divided into two segments, the first presenting the memorable songs of the big-band era. Performed in both the big band and small-group settings, the songbook set will spotlight the talents of Vikki True, the Berkshires’ top Jazz vocalist. In the second half of the program, the AJRO will play the themes and tunes made popular by Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman. The band plays the original, authentic arrangements of such instrumentals as King Porter Stomp, Four Brothers, Intermission Riff, Woodchoppers Ball, Mood Indigo, and its perennial show-stopper, Sing, Sing, Sing.
The American Jazz Repertory Orchestra is directed by Clem DeRosa, a member of the Jazz Hall of Fame, a big-band drummer and pioneer in Jazz education. During his military career, DeRosa served with one of Glenn Miller’s Air Corps Bands, and later took one of Miller’s “ghost bands” on a tour of European concert and dance dates. He has also taken the legacy band of Benny Goodman on the road.
DeRosa was on the founding faculty of Stan Kenton’s Stage Band Camps (later known as the Kenton Clinics), and was a founder of the International Association for Jazz Education.
The concert gets under way at 7:30pm at First United Methodist Church, 55 Fenn Street, Pittsfield. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door ($15 for students). Further information: 413-442-7718. Video clips of the orchestra are posted at www.AmericanJazzVenues.org.
Berkshires Jazz, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, established in 2009 to present Jazz events and promote Jazz education throughout Berkshire County in western Massachusetts. The organization is also the sponsor of the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival.