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Vanguard Jazz Orchestra swings into Columbia

Monday, February 16, 2009 | 5:59 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — When the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra performs in Columbia on Wednesday, it will bring new works to life, courtesy of Missouri composer Bob Brookmeyer and the “We Always Swing” Jazz Series.

The orchestra — which won a Grammy Award on Feb. 8 — will premiere compositions by Brookmeyer, a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. The Kansas City native is a renowned musician, composer and arranger and was a member of the orchestra when it began in 1965.

If you go

What: The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, 203 S. Ninth St.

Tickets: $21 to $30; $14 to $30 for students. Available at the Missouri Theatre box office at 203 S. Ninth St., the Jazz Series box office, 218 N. Eighth St., or any Ticketmaster outlet. MU students can student charge their tickets at Brady Commons. For the Jazz Series' box office, please call 449-3001.

What: One-on-One interview with Bob Brookmeyer and Dan Morgenstern

When: 2 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Whitmore Recital Hall, Fine Arts Building, Lowry Mall between Ninth and Hitt streets

Admission: Free

What: Panel discussion with John Mosca and Douglas Purviance

When: 3:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Whitmore Recital Hall, Fine Arts Building, Lowry Mall between Ninth and Hitt streets

Admission: Free

 

 



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The titles of the compositions are being held "under wraps," said Jon Poses, executive director of the Jazz Series. He said he thinks they will be substantial pieces in length and content.

The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra was first known as the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. Jones’ name, however, was dropped from the title after he left the orchestra in 1978. Based in New York City, the orchestra has played almost every Monday night at the Village Vanguard for more than 40 years; it took on the name of the famous jazz club in 1990 after Lewis’ death.

The concert, which will be held at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, follows the orchestra’s most recent Grammy win for “Best Large Ensemble Album” for its CD “Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard.”

Brookmeyer, 79, no longer plays with the orchestra on a regular basis, but the group often performs his compositions, including his Grammy-nominated arrangement of “St. Louis Blues.”

The concert is a part of the MU College of Arts and Science Week, as are two educational forums Tuesday. At the first free public forum, Dan Morgenstern, a Jazz Master and director of the Jazz Institute at Rutgers University in New Jersey, will conduct a one-on-one interview with Brookmeyer. For the second forum, Morgenstern will also moderate a panel discussion with two of the orchestra’s members, director John Mosca and bass trombonist Douglas Purviance.

"We figure if we are going to have Brookmeyer here, we might as well take full advantage of it and open up as much as we can to the public,” said Mike O’Brien, dean of the MU College of Arts and Science.

An independent film crew plans to release footage of the concert and forums on DVD. "We hope this will be a little piece of jazz history, something people will remember,” Poses said.

The "We Always Swing" Jazz Series, founded in 1995, is a nonprofit concert-producing and educational organization. The Jazz Series proposed this event as part of its grant application for the NEA's Jazz Masters Live initiative. The grant allows NEA-selected “host sites” to produce events featuring Jazz Masters, a prestigious title awarded by the NEA that, according to its site, is considered one of the nation’s highest honors in jazz.

The Jazz Series is one of 66 organizations in the country recognized as an NEA Jazz Masters host site. Poses said a dozen grants were given out for this year. The Jazz Series received a $30,000 grant, providing the resources needed to bring Brookmeyer back to Missouri and to commission him to write new music for the orchestra.

“(The Jazz Series’) mission is to present, promote, preserve and celebrate the great American art form known as jazz," Poses said. "... This project fulfills every piece of that mission."


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