Jazz group brings sparkling sound to stages in area

Ensemble is concluding its fifth season as premier orchestra

Posted 6/26/18

When vocalist Steve Lippia joins the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra at the Arvada Center on July 21, the audience will time-travel to 1966 to hear music from the classic jazz album, “Basie and …

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Jazz group brings sparkling sound to stages in area

Ensemble is concluding its fifth season as premier orchestra

Posted

When vocalist Steve Lippia joins the Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra at the Arvada Center on July 21, the audience will time-travel to 1966 to hear music from the classic jazz album, “Basie and Sinatra at the Sands,” originally recorded in Las Vegas in 1966 by the Count Basie Orchestra — the first live performance recording by famous crooner Frank Sinatra. (Pack a picnic or purchase food from local vendors.)

The CJRO, completing its fifth season, boasts a repertoire that includes tunes from the libraries of Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington and Maynard Ferguson, plus its own arrangements of classic jazz selections, according to director/saxophonist Art Bouton, who lives in Lone Tree, performs widely and teaches at University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music.

The ensemble has recently performed at the PACE Center, the Arvada Center and the Rialto Theatre in Loveland.

Sinatra’s memorable music is in the extensive repertoire of singer Steve Lippia, who will perform music — arranged for the Count Basie Orchestra by Quincy Jones — and recorded live in the Copa Room of the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 1966.

Lippia, who lives in Las Vegas, has performed at Colorado’s Aspen Jazz Festival and across the United States with symphonies, at clubs and at special events, as well as on televised musical programs. His “Steve Lippia Live” recording received a Grammy nomination. The audience will enjoy Sinatra’s famous songs, “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Luck be a Lady,” “My Kind of Town” and standard Basie hits presented in CJRO’s skillfully blended big band style.

Many CJRO musicians perform nationally, so at times there is an empty seat or a substitute, but members of this orchestra, in addition to Bouton, include: saxophonists Sam Williams, Tom Myer, Eric Erhardt and Wil Swindler. On trombone: Scott Bean, Paul McKee, Steve Weist, Jim Gray. On trumpet, the CJRO includes: Greg Gisbert, who grew up in Colorado and is a founding member of the jazz ensemble, “Convergence”; Jake Boldman, Al Hood, Dawn Kramer. The rhythm section includes Eric Gunnison, piano; Bijoux Barbosa, bass; Mike Marlier, drums and Mike Abbot, guitar. Vocalists are Heidi Schmidt and Robert Johnson. A number of these performers are also jazz educators and perform with other groups in Denver, New York and elsewhere.

The orchestra’s 2018-2019 season will include: Sept. 21 — CJRO Sextet: “Robert Johnson: Blues + Jazz = Soul” at the PACE Center in Parker; Oct. 12 — CJRO Sextet: “A Night in New Orleans with Robert Johnson” at the PACE Center; Oct. 20 — “The CJRO Goes Latin” at the Arvada Center; Dec. 6 — “Christmas With the CJRO” at Lakewood Center for the Arts and Humanities; Jan. 19 — “Down With the Count: A Basie Bash” at Arvada Center; Feb. 8 — “Ella and the Great Ladies of Song, featuring Heidi Schmidt” at the PACE Center; March 3 — “Music of Ray Charles, featuring Robert Johnson” at the PACE Center; March 16 — “Overjoyed: The Music of Stevie Wonder” at the Arvada Center; March 29 — “CJRO Sextet Presents: A Latin Happening, featuring Heidi Schmidt” at the PACE Center; May 11 — “A Tribute to Maynard Ferguson” at Arvada Center. Mark those calendars!

CJRO recently released its first CD — “Invitation.”

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