January-19th-2007, 03:21 PM
Favorite U-Mary Jazz Festival performers return (Bismarck, ND)
Favorite U-Mary Jazz Festival performers return
Every armchair reverie should end as well as the one Scott Prebys recently enjoyed.
Yes, it's just January, but in 11 months you'll probably look back and say Prebys put on the concert of the year.
The 34th annual University of Mary Jazz Festival is just around the corner, and it looks to be the best one in a long time. Maybe ever. Prebys, who organizes the festival every year, also is back in charge of the jazz ensemble for the second straight festival, after relinquishing those duties for a few years.
"Those three years Ididn't have the band, I really missed it," he said. "When Igot it back last year, Irealized how much I enjoyed it and missed it. I sat down in an armchair and thought back to the greatest jazz festivals we've had, and what made them great."
Prebys thought of the most popular guest artists in his history with the festival. He called them.
They're coming. All at once.
Tom "Bones" Malone, Lenny Pickett, Ruben Alvarez. Lisa Henry and her accompanist, Everette Freeman. Top it off with Bismarck favorite son Richard Torrance.
"To get the 'who's who' of jazz and blues on our stage at one time is a once-in-a-lifetime treat for music fans in the Northern Plains," Prebys said. "This will be a reunion of our favorite festival performers from the past decade. Every artist wanted to return to Bismarck and play together - which is a true testament to our students, our program and our great fans in the city of Bismarck and surrounding areas who come to the shows."
The festival will again be held in the Civic Center's Starlite Theatre, at 8 p.m. Jan. 26. The jazz ensemble will perform four selections, and the guests will take the stage for five. Tickets are $10, available at Eckroth Music, Lee's Hallmark and U-Mary.
A second concert, featuring U-Mary's vocal jazz ensemble, will be held at 4 p.m. Jan. 27 at Arno Gustin Hall. That concert, which is free, also will feature Henry and Freeman.
The Friday night concert promises to be powerful.
"It's looking like it's going to be a really, really good show,"Prebys said. "I desperately want to keep this thing at an hour and a half this year, but at the same time Iwant these guys to blow as much as they want. They traveled a long way to get here."
Powerhouse singer Henry, from Kansas City, will be making her fourth appearance. She regularly plays with Freeman in Missouri, and is the program director for the Charlie Parker Institute of Jazz.
Bones Malone was a founding member of the Blues Brothers band, and was music arranger for the first 10 years of "Saturday Night Live." He currently plays trombone and other horns in the CBS Orchestra on the "Late Show with David Letterman." It'll be his third trip to Bismarck.
Making his second appearance here will be Pickett, the musical director and tenor sax player for the Saturday Night Live Band. Pickett has been with SNL for 22 years. The show is in the middle of its 32nd year, but Pickett found some time in his schedule for Prebys.
"He just asked me. Ihad the weekend off, so Isaid yes,"Pickett, who tours infrequently, said.
Like Henry, Alvarez also is coming back for his fourth Bismarck appearance. Based in Chicago, he's the Latin percussionist who got everyone in the Civic Center's Exhibit Hall on their feet and dancing in 2005.
Prebys is particularly happy to have Torrance round out the list of guest artists.
"He's just a great musician,"Prebys said. "Whenever I can, Ilike to include a Bismarck person in the mix. We've got some talent here, and we like to showcase that talent. When Richard lights it up, he lights it up. He can mix it up with anybody."
Torrance, a guitarist and singer, has been performing for more than 40 years. A Mandan native, he sold 40,000 albums for Capitol Records with his hit "Rio de Janeiro Blue," a song that helped other artists sell hundreds of thousands of copies.
The guest artists also will host workshops Jan. 26 for about 50 different groups from 27 area schools.