Northwestern Press

Sunday, December 17, 2017

‘Holiday Brass’: Rodney Marsalis rings in season with jazz at Miller Symphony Hall

Thursday, December 14, 2017 by GEORGE VANDOREN in Focus

You can ring in the holidays with world-class brass at Allentown’s Miller Symphony Hall. The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass (RMPBB) presents “Holiday Brass” at 7 p.m. Dec. 17.

The ensemble is composed of some of the United States’ top brass musicians and aims to celebrate peace and the unity of the human spirit through a variety of holiday music. There will be 11 musicians on stage: five trumpets, three trombones, French horn, tuba, drummer, and, for the Allentown concert, a narrator.

DiBussolo ‘Jazz Upstairs’ to swing Christmas

Thursday, December 14, 2017 by GEORGE VANDOREN in Focus

Miller Symphony Hall will be swinging in a holiday way Dec. 15. The Frank DiBussolo Philly Reunion Group presents “A Swinging Philly Christmas” as part of the “Jazz Upstairs” series in the Rodale Community Room starting at 7:30 p.m.

DiBussolo is a veteran jazz guitarist who has performed with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Diana Ross, among other famous singers. He has been a featured soloist with the bands of Buddy Rich, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Bucky Pizzarelli, Howard Alden and Lester Lannin.

Zen is when at Symphony Hall

Thursday, November 16, 2017 by GEORGE VANDOREN in Focus

You may not achieve nirvana but you can experience “The Music of Zen,” that is “The Music of Zen For Primates,” in the “Jazz Upstairs,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17, Rodale Community Room, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

When asked to characterize the group’s music, which has been dubbed “cabaret rock,” Krisukas, a founder, composer and guitarist of Zen For Primates, says, “I really can’t describe it. It’s too complex to explain in one sentence. Part of the approach from the beginning was to juxtapose various styles.”

When they’re the Hot Club, they’re hot

Friday, October 20, 2017 by GEORGE VANDOREN in Focus

What’s cool and hot at the same time? Easy: The Hot Club of Philadelphia. This ensemble gives a contemporary twist to Gypsy Jazz as part of the “Jazz Upstairs” series, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20, Rodale Community Room, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

The group traces its origins back to 2001 when guitarist Barry Wahrhaftig created an ensemble dedicated to Gypsy Jazz music of the legendary Hot Club of France Quintet. That group featured jazz legends guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli.

High-level silliness: The Queen’s Cartoonists plays ‘Looney Tunes’ and all that jazz

Friday, September 22, 2017 by GEORGE VANDOREN in Focus

Looking for something out of the ordinary yet with toe-tapping melodies?

The Queen’s Cartoonists bring all that and more to Miller Symphony Hall’s “Live OnStage Series” at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29. The ensemble features video projections, vocal numbers, comedy, and up-tempo swing arrangements.

The Cartoonists, founded by pianist and composer Joel Pierson, played their first gig in March 2015. The group’s name comes from the fact that all the original members live in Queens. Now, alas, the bass player resides in Brooklyn.

Nobody does Bond better: Broadway diva Rachel York joins ASO for Pops opener

Friday, September 15, 2017 by GEORGE VANDOREN in Focus

A Broadway diva meets a suave secret agent on Sixth Street in Allentown when songstress Rachel York joins the Allentown Symphony Orchestra for the 2017-18 season-opening Pops Concert, “The Music Of James Bond And More,” 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

York is well-known for her Broadway performances in the original Tony Award-winning production of “City of Angels”; “Les Miserables”; “Victor/Victoria” (Drama Desk Award), with Julie Andrews; “Sly Fox,” with Richard Dreyfuss, and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” with Jonathan Pryce.

Mark Friday for Last Thursday

Friday, September 8, 2017 by GEORGE VANDOREN in Focus

It’s Thursday on Friday.

Miller Symphony Hall presents The Last Thursday Band as part of its “Jazz Upstairs” series, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8, Rodale Communioty Room, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

The ensemble consists of Brian Bortz, bass; Lou Czechowski, keyboards; Vicki Doney, vocals, and Daniel Gonzalez, drums and percussion. Chet Brown will join the group on vocals.

Bortz says the band is a product of serendipity that “morphed organically into what it is.”

Chicago hits Musikfest with all the hits

Friday, August 4, 2017 by GEORGE VANDOREN in Focus

The celebrated sounds of Chicago will ring out Aug. 5 at Bethlehem’s Musikfest. The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame band concert kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza.

This year marks Chicago’s 50th consecutive year of touring, and trumpeter Lee Loughnane has made all 50. The tour takes the group from the East Coast to the West Coast with stops in Canada and Mexico and concludes after a few weeks off in Shippensburg in mid-November.

Afternoon & night delight: Spyro Gyra’s Tom Schuman headlines second annual Christmas City Jazz Fest

Friday, July 21, 2017 by GEORGE VANDOREN in Focus

July 22 promises to be a jazz lover’s delight in the Lehigh Valley.

The Pennsylvania Jazz Collective presents its second annual “Christmas City Summer Jazz Festival,” 12:30 - 10 p.m. July 22 at the Bethlehem Municipal Ice Rink, 345 Illick’s Mill Road, Bethlehem. There will be 12 groups on two stages. Festival headliner is Tom Schuman of Spyro Gyra.

Jazz with Roper at Miller Symphony Hall

Friday, July 21, 2017 by GEORGE VANDOREN in Focus

Lehigh Valley jazz legend Dave Roper holds court at Miller Symphony Hall as part of the “Jazz Upstairs” series with the first set kicking off at 7:30 p.m. July 21 in the Rodale Room.

The veteran jazz pianist has been performing in the trio configuration since his graduation from Lafayette College in 1960.

Roper notes, “After Lafayette, rather than look for corporate job, I found I could play piano three or four nights a week with a bass and drummer.” He plays solo piano “on rare occasions.”