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Jazz Heritage Orchestra keeps jazz alive in MC Auditorium

December 5, 2013

By Tara Harris

The Black Studies program presented its fifth annual Treasures of Jazz concert featuring the Jazz Heritage Orchestra. More than 100 guests filled the auditorium in the Main Classroom Saturday night on Nov. 23 despite the wicked winds and frigid temperatures outside.

The Jazz Heritage Orchestra (JHO) was created by the late Dr. Howard A. Mims, former Black Studies program director. He and a few others established the advisory board and decided the mission of the JHO would be “to preserve and perpetuate the musical heritage of the great African American jazz masters.”

Dennis Reynolds, band director and member of the orchestra, has led the JHO to national excellence, as JHO is recognized nationally as one of the top orchestras in the country.
Students from the Dameron Institute enrolled in The Music Settlement jazz program directed by Glen Holmes opened up for the Jazz Heritage Orchestra, playing a few tunes by Thelonious Monk.

“The future starts with the youth,” said Reynolds after the exited the stage. He added, “Jazz will not die, it will continue on.”

The JHO was seated and began to play after an introduction by Dr. Michael Williams, Black Studies program director.

The titles of most of the songs performed were not mentioned, the orchestra would just “kick it.” A couple of songs the JHO named were “Gumba Blue” and “The Count Basie Remembrance Suite.”

Audience members seemed to know the songs that were being played by the way they clapped their hands in unison to the beat.

Almost every orchestra member had a chance to showcase their individual talent on their instruments. They displayed energy while they performed solos and they focused with attention to not miss a beat.

The vibe inside was warm and inviting. The audience bopped their heads and tapped their feet to the tunes.

“I love the way jazz music makes you move. I especially enjoyed the trumpet and saxophone solos. It was the best jazz concert I ever attended,” said Joshua Legard, information technology student at Tri-C.

They played upbeat songs then slowed things down with a mellow tune and picked up tempo with the next piece.

The JHO also had a couple of soulful vocalists, Michael Cady and Earlie Braggs, who performed blues tunes such as “Gumba Blue” and “Georgia”.

The audience showed their full appreciation by applauding and passionately cheering when the program was over.

The JHO have recorded two CDs titled “Bouncy with Benny” and “Steppin’ Out.”

The orchestra is available for appearances, workshops and seminars. For more information contact the Black Studies program at 216-687-3655.