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Saturday concert appeals to lovers of jazz, and those new to the music

MIDDLEBURY — Music lovers who drop in on the annual all-star performance of the Miles Donahue Quintet this Saturday evening at Middlebury College should find a lot to love.
Donahue, an affiliate artist at the college, has been bringing top-flight talent to Middlebury for going on a decade. The 8 p.m. free concert at the Mahaney Center for the Arts Concert Hall will be no exception.
A new member of the quintet this year is Bruce Gertz, a full-time professor at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston. Not only is Gertz a mainstay in the Boston jazz scene, but he also travels the world looking for talent to bring back to Berklee.
Donahue says he played with Gertz when he lived in Boston, and Gertz appeared on Donahue’s first three albums.
“He’s one of those people who lives to make good music,” Donahue says of Gertz. “He has a passion for music, a huge commitment to it; he just wants to make it good.”
Veteran members of the quintet include tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, who has performed and toured with jazz luminaries ranging from Dave Brubeck and Mike Stern to Joey Calderazzo and Bill Evans; pianist Alain Mallet, whose many credentials include performance with the Caribbean Jazz Project; drummer Ralph Peterson Jr., who has collaborated with jazz greats Art Blake and Betty Carter among many others.
And, of course, Donahue will lead with his usual sterling performances on the saxophone and trumpet.
In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, Donahue said, the quintet will play some songs in tribute to jazz pioneers including Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. The set may include a Duke Ellington tune, as well, Donahue said.
Then the musicians will perform newer songs, including a Donahue composition in tribute to jazz great Clifford Brown.
Donahue will be giving away copies of his latest CD, called “Truckin’.”
“I’d like to have everyone who likes the music to leave with a CD,” Donahue said.
Donahue looks forward not only to entertaining the fan base he has built up in the area, but also to introduceing new people to the genre. And what better way to enjoy the music than live and in person, he said.
“People need to give jazz a chance,” Donahue said. “A live jazz performance is more engaging than when you hear it on the radio.”
Miles Donahue Quintet, Mahaney Center for the Arts at Middlebury College, Saturday, April 4, 8-10 p.m. Free.

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