Take a journey to the Big Band era this weekend with LC Jazz
The Vergennes Opera House is not hosting a performance this Saturday evening, it’s a journey ? a journey through the history of jazz. It’s also a celebration ? celebrating the 25th anniversary of Vergennes-based LC Jazz. This 18-piece classic big band along with actor Christopher Ross will guide the audience from the birth of jazz in New Orleans through the fabulous ’50s ? think Sinatra, Bennett and Darin. Show starts at 7:30 p.m.
The evening is in honor of Dr. Don Bicknell (a well known family doctor in the Little City.) He and Dennis Bruso were the founders of LC Jazz 25 years ago.
“This group was their brain child,” said Jennifer Murdoch, baritone sax player and personnel manager for LC Jazz. “It started out as more of a community band and over the years it’s developed into a very professional group.”
Dr. Don was the lead alto sax player, Murdoch explained. “He sat in the center of the front row. He was such a significant part of the band… We all love him and it’s a major thing that he did for all of us.”
Dr. Don had to tone it down (excuse the pun) when he reached his 80s. So he retired from the group last year with 24 years under his belt.
The current band is made up of 16 musicians, Liz Cleveland is their female vocalist and Tony Panella is the male vocalist/trumpet player. They are all volunteers.
“Most of us have other jobs or are retired,” Murdoch, who also works at the Counseling Service of Addison County, explained. Any money LC Jazz raises benefits the three scholarships they give annually to students from Mount Abe, Middlebury Union and Vergennes Union high schools who are enrolled in a college program to continue music education or music performance. Each scholarship is $1,000.
“Our goal is to keep the big band sound alive and make sure people have access to it,” said Mudoch, who began playing sax as a fifth grader at Mary Hogan Elementary in Middlebury. She’s been with LC Jazz now for 10 years.
Enter Christopher Ross. In his own words, he’s a “stay-at-home dad and a writer and an editor.” But on Saturday night he’ll be the emcee to introduce and explain the music that LC Jazz brings. You’ll be in good hands with Ross.
“I was a DJ for several years before I started acting,” Ross continued. “I’ve acted with Middlebury Community Players, the Bristol Gateway Players, and the Flynn Actors’ Ensemble, and I did a one-man show last autumn at Town Hall Theater under the direction of Douglas Anderson. And yes, I’m getting my second masters degree up at Breadloaf.” See, told ya so. He’s got cred.
LC Jazz Musical Director (and elementary music education in Vergennes) Steve Sawyer, Ross and the 18 members of LC Jazz are sure to bring the house down with some big sound from a big band.
“I’m proud of the continuous musical development of the group,” Murdoch summarized. “The commitment of our members, staying true to our mission, being able to double our scholarship awards in recent years, and that we really have a good time doing it!”
Is there anything else that matters?
Seating at the Vergennes Opera House will be concert style as well as tables and balcony. If you can’t sit still, hang out at the back of the hall; there will be space for dancing. Tickets are available at the door, online at vergennesoperahouse.org, and from any band member. There will be cake and punch served at the intermission.
Tickets available online $5 for seniors (62+) and students, all others $10, or at the door the evening of the performance.