Jazz Erie E-Newsletter

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Concert Season for 2017

On March 6th, 1917, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band released 'Dixie Jass Band One Step' and 'Livery Stable Blues' for the Columbia Gramophone Company.  These sides became hits and gave Americans across the country their first taste of America's original art form, jazz.  "Erie Celebrates 100 Years of Recorded Jazz" is a year long celebration of the music that followed this inauguration, presented by JazzErie, the sponsors listed below, and the Pennsylvania Partnership for the Arts.

JazzErie's Series has so far presented a number of great events:

  • Presentation by jazz author Mark Gridley at Gannon University, co-sponsored by the Schuster Foundation and Gannon University,
  • "Celebrating Swing" concert with Long's School of Dance and the Presque Isle Swing Orchestra,  co-sponsored by Long's School of Dance.
  • Next Generation Concert at McLane H.S. featuring student bands and the Misery Bay Big Band with Sal Andolina.  Co-sponsored by Gen. McLane H.S. and Band Boosters.
  • JazzErie's Annual Jazz & Blues Walk, featuring the Bruce Johnstone Trio, co-sponsored by the Erie Art Museum and participating venues.
  • "Thumbscres" avant garde jazz with Mary Halvorson, Michael Formanek  and Tomas Fujiwara, at PACA. Produced by PACA, co-sponsored by JazzErie.

JazzErie Celebratges 100 Years of Recorded Jazz


Fri., Aug. 4   WQLN Sounds Around Concert: re-creation of "Jazz at the Philharmonic" concert, with regional musicians burning up the evening air.  7:00 p.m.  WQLN Studio, 8425 Peach St.  Free. Co-sponsored with WQLN and Local 17, AFM.

Weds., Sept. 6   Tom Rainey Trio featuring Mary Halvorson, guitar, and Ingrid Laubrock, reeds, along with drummer Rainey.  PACA, 15505 State St., 8:00 p.m.  Donation encouraged.

Fri., Oct. 6   Singer Vanessa Rubin and saxophonist Don Braden  8:00 p.m., Erie Art Museum.  Suggested donation $20 general admission, $15 JazzErie members.  Co-sponsored by the Erie Art Museum.

Sat., Oct. 28   Erie Philharmonic Pops Orchestra, featuring Chris Brubeck Quartet.  8:00 p.m., Warner Theater.  Ticket information at www.eriephil.org or call (814) 455-1375.  Concert is produced by the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra and co-sponsored by JazzErie.

Fri., Nov. 17   Bobby Selvaggio and Red Rhinoscerous.  8:00 p.m. at the Erie Art Museum, 5th St. entrance.  Suggested donation $20 general admission, $15 JazzErie members. Co-sponsored by the Erie Art Museum.

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Bolden Band, 1905ORIGINS.

The precise origins of the music we call jazz are obscure.  What is well understood is that an amalgam of African percussion and chants, celebratory funeral marches, syncopated ragtime, Creole dance music laced with improvisation, and other musical fodder was passed around among musicians and was in the air in New Orleans and other cities in the nineteen-teens.

Jelly Roll MortonBut the earliest commercially released recordings (a novel technology at that time) identified as Jazz (or Jass) can be identified and dated -- in 1917.  Ironically, they featured white musicians.  The Bolden Band, shown at right, was one of many earlier black and Creole groups. At one point the Bolden band included a young Louis Armstrong. Pianist Jelly Roll Morton also laid claim to originating jazz, and early recordings certainly bear out his contributions to a rhythmic "swing" feel in his music.

Improvisation and swing.

From these widespread experiments emerged a style of group improvisation, now called "Dixieland," and  soon transplanted northward to Chicago and other cities across the Eastern Seaboard and Midwest, as the Great Migration brought black Americans and others to employment and fewer restrictions that in the South., Hastened by the developing technologies of phonograph records and radio, this new musicc, which involved improvisatory, rhythmic drive and nuance, rooted in many cultures, was called "jazz," and was promulgated across the U.S.  In a very short period of time, it found an enthusiastic audience and dancers in new generations if the '20's, '30's and '40's. 

During these decades, the music evolved rapidly, into swing, big band, "hot" and "cool" styles, and much more.  Some styles were marked by their association with particular cities or regions ("Chicago," "Kansas City," "West Coast, "Afro-Cuban"), some by unique harmonic/rhythmic approaches (be-beop< fusion)..  We won't try to cover it all.  But we will provide some great samples.

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Jazz at the Philharmonic posterAugust 4   WQLN Sounds Around Town  State St/Concert: Re-creation of "Jazz at the Philharmonic."  7:00 p.m., WQLN Studios, 8425 Peach St.     FREE!,  Co-sponsored by WQLN and JazzErie, with support from Local 17, AF of M..

Joe DorrisThis concert will be a re-creation of the legendary "Jazz at the Philharmonic" concerts produced by jazz impresario Norman Granz and featuring a stellar rhythm section and a collection of the best soloists of the day.  These occasional concerts began in 1946 and extended into the 1960's..  

Our concert, in the same free-wheeling spirit, will combine a fine local rhythm section and some of  the best soloists in the area.

Featured will be a rotating cast made up of  Joe Dorris -- drums,vocals, harmonica; and Frank Singer -- guitar, vocals;  Tony Stefanelli and Joe Frisina -- electric bass;  Nick "Tito" Ronzitti -- drums & percussion, Matt Ferfuson and Tim Driscoll -- drums.

Featured soloists will include Bruce Johnstone -- baritone and soprano saxophones, Allen Zurcher-- saxophones,  Phil Popotnik and Kenny Gamble -- saxophones;  singers Julia Hamilton and Diane Lacastro;  guitarists Jim Lynch, and Vinny Stefanelli and Dave VanAmburg.

The concert will be outdoors.  Bring your blanket and/or lawn chair.  Beer and coffee will be available.

Tom Rainey Trio: Tom Rainey, Mary Halvorson and Ingrid LaubrachOn Wednesday, Sept. 6, the Tom Rainey Trio will perform at PACA, 1505 State St. for an 8:00 p.m. concert.

The trio features Rainey on drums, Mary Halvorson on guitar, and Ingrid Laubrock on reeds.  More information in thel article in this eLetter. about the concert.

Vanessa RubinDon BradenOctober 6     Vanessa Rubin and Don Braden     Erie Art Museum, 5th St. entrance,  8:00 p.m., Suggested donation $20, JazzErie members $15.  Co-ssponsored with the Erie Art Museum.

Cleveland-born, now internationally famous vocalist Vanessa Rubin will join saxophonist Don Braden and others for a performance at the Erie Art Museum on Oct. 6.

After establishing her reputation in the Cleveland area, Vanessa moved to NYC in 1986 and soon was playing regular gigs with Kenny Barron, Mercer Ellington and others.  She is also a certified teacher by profession and a jazz educator.  She has been an adjudicator for the Thelonious Monk Institute and Jazz At Lincoln Center.  Her latest recording, with Braden, is titled "Full Circle."

Don Braden has been a jazz soloist and leader for 30+ years.  He has made 19 CD's as a leader, has worked with Betty Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Tony Williams, Roy Haynes and many others.


Nov. 17    Bobby Selvaggio and Red Rhinocerous.  8:00 p.m., Erie Art Museum, 5th St. entrance..  Following a career in NYC, where he played with many notables, and garnered accolades from fellow saxophonist Joe Lovano and pianist Kenny Werner,  Selvaggio returned to NE Ohio to direct the Jazz Studies program at Kent State University.  He has formed and played with a number of groups in the region. His latest is a revival of his band Red Bobby SelvaggioRhinocerous.

Suggested donation $20; JazzErie membeers $15.


WE WELCOME YOUR ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN THESE EVENTS.  WE'RE EXCITED BY THE SERIES, AND BY THE QUALITY OF THE EVENTS LISTED ABOVE. We appreeciate the originality and hard work of JazzErie President Allen Zurcher and the JazzErie Performance Committee in assemboing this outstanding lineup of concerts.  We appreciate the support we have received from many sources, including out Members. WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU.

If you have questions, please contact me at 814/923-4101 or rwtqveta12191@hotmail.com.

By Dick Thompson


January 22, 2017