Jazz News & Notices

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 Celebratges 100 Years of Recorded Jazz

SAVE THESE DATES!!!  (Note changes from previous posting.)

Fri., April 21   "Celebrating Swing," with Long School of Dance and the Presque Isle Jazz Orchestra.  6:00 - 9:00 p.m. at the Bel Aire Clarion Conference Center, 2800 W. 8th St.  Tickets $15, JazzErie members $10.

Thurs., May 11   JazzErie's "Next Generation" Concert   6:00 p.m.,Gen. McLane High School, Rte.99, Edinboro.  Area high school jazz bands made up of student musicians, plus a band of regional professionals, play stage band arrangements.  Guest artist: clarinetist/saxophonist Sal Andolina, Suggested donation $5, students free.  Co-sponsored by participating band boosters and Gen. McLane H.S.

Sat., June 17    JazzErie's Jazz & Blues Walk  Starting with a reception and concert at the Erie Art Museum, from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.great regional bands will perform at downtown Erie venues until midnight.  Bands will play jazz from different eras: (swing, bebop, fusion, traditional, etc.) in keeping the theme of "Erie Celebrates...."  Event is In partnership with participating venues.   Suggested Donation $15.

Tues., June 20    Mary Halvorson's "Thumbscrew," with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara.  8:00 p.m.,  PACA, 1505 State St.  Co-sponsored by JazzErie.

Fri., July 14    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.

Fri., August 4     WQLN Sounds Around Town Concert: "Celebrating Miles," featuring some of the arrangements, compositions and sounds of Miles Davis.  7:00 p.m.  WQLN Studio.  Free.  Co-sponsored with WQLN and Local 17, AFM.

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 with 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.  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.

Long School of DanceFri., April 21 " Celebrating Swing!"  6:00 - 9:00 p.m., at the Bel Aire Clarion Conference Center, 2800 W. 8th St.

This program, presented in collaboration with the Long's School of Dance, will bring you the joy and enthusiasm of music from the swing and big band era, with student dancers from the Long's School.

Long's School identifies itself as the "Number One Performing Arts School in Erie for over 60 years," and has trained thousands of area dancers over three generations.  It has studios in Mill Creek, Harborcreek, Waterford, Fairview, Edinboro.and Albion.

Under the leadership of professional dancers and educators Jay Long, Lee Ann Long and Jamie Long, the school employs a staff of over 20 faculty members, all Certified Dance Educators.

Presque Isle Jazz OrchestraMusic will be provided by the Presque Isle Jazz Orchestra, a band composed of regional musicians, convened for the occasion by director Allen Zurcher.  The band will play familiar and original swing music charts.

Tickets are $15 for the general public; $10 for JazzErie members.  They are available at Long's School of Dance, 826 Sellinger Ave. Erie, PA  814/833-7179, or longschoolofdance.net.

JazzErie All-StarsMay 11     JazzErie's "Next Generation" Concert     Ger. McLane High School, Rte. 99, Edinboro.  The largest non-competitive high school jazz festival in Northwest Pennsylvania, this annual.concert features student musicians in regional high school jazz bands, with an enthusiastic audience of classmates and friends, family, faculty members, and jazz fans. 

Established by former band directors John Marszalek and Chuck Lute, the early evening concert also features a professional big band, composed of top area  professional musicians.  Our guest artist this year will be clarinetist/saxophonist Sal Andolina.

Students learning the language of jazz!  Come prepared for a full evening of music and fun.  Suggested donation $5, students free.

Bruce Johnstone Quartet at 2014 Jazz WalkJune 17     JazzErie's Jazz & Blues Walk   6:00 - 8:00 p.m. at the Erie Art Museum, pther downtown venues until midnight.

Beginning with a reception and live music at the Erie Art Museum, this event presents jazz at seven downtown Erie venues.  Following through on our theme, the music at each venue will feature a different era or style of jazz music: be-bop, hard bop, Latin jazz, fusion, traditional, etc.

Donation of $15 suggested, for a bracelet entitling you to refreshments and beverage at the reception, plus admission to all venues.  Busses available if you tire of walking.  Excellent music, excellent company, a chance to enjoy a fine evening in downtown Erie. As the event approaches, bracelets will be available at Romolo Chocolates, 1525 W. 8th St.

Mary HalvorsonMichael FormanekTues., June 20   "Thumbscrew,"  8:00 p.m., PACA, 1505 State St.

Three of NYC's leading experimental musicians join for an Erie concert at PACA, 1505 State St.  Each is now famous in their own right,  Mary Halvorson - guitar, has been a growing presence in MYC, pairing with Anthony Braxton, Marc Ribot,  Myra Medford, Jason Moran and leading duos with Vijay Iyer's bassist Steven Crump and others, plus leading her own quartet and sextet.. 

Tomas Fujiwara - percussion and Michael Formanek - bass join forces in this high powered group.   Formaneek recently released a highly regarded recording as leader of his own big band, Ensemble Kokossus.  He has played in bands of Tony Williams, Freddy Hubbard, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Fred Hersch and others. More details will follow.

Jazz at the Philharmonic posterJuly 14     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..

This 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.

Miles DavisAugust 4     Another WQLN/JazzErie "Sounds Around Town" Concert --- this time "Re-imagining Miles," celebrating the transcendent musician, composer, talent gatherer, and innovative bandleader Miles Davis  7:00 p.m., WQLN Studios, 8425 Peach St.,  FREE!.  Again, co-sponsored with WQLN and support from Local 17, AF of M.

With a small ensemble, this concert will refresh our memories of this searching musician whose career began on the bandstand with Charlie Parker, went on to redefine "cool," fronted two groundbreaking quintets, then opened the doors wide to rock-infused "fusion," the electronic music of a new generation, and all the space beyond -- while never losing his intimate and personal trumpet voice, or his own compositional sensitivity.


On Thursday, Sept. 6, Mary Halvorson will be back again at PACA, 1505 State St. for an 8:00 p.m. concert with the Tom Rainey Trio.

The trio features Halvorson on guitar, Rainey on drums and Halvorson compatriot Ingrid Laubock on reeds.  More information to come.

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