The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

Vanguard Jazz Orchestra


The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Monday night institution at New York City’s historic Village Vanguard jazz club for over 30 years (originally led by drummer Mel Lewis and Thad Jones), features many of New York City’s finest studio musicians: Jim McNeely, Dick Oatts, John Riley, Dennis Irwin, Billy Drewes, Glen Drewes, Dennis Erwin, John Riley, John Mosca, Gary Smulyan, and Ed Neumeister. Down Beat magazine hailed, “The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra remains a hidden treasure in its own land. Let’s celebrate its longevity, its legacy and its status as a vanguard of modern big bands.”

Many of the band’s musicians are themselves composers and arrangers. Their credits include dozens of major motion pictures, hundreds of television themes, numerous Broadway shows, and a dazzling array of performances with such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, and B. B. King, to name a few. Their touring performances have brought big band jazz to every corner of the world.

This concert–organized by the Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives Commmittee–is funded by the Baruch College Performing Arts Center and The Baruch College Fund.

This year, for the second time, the Hinton committee has organized a series of concerts starting with the November 6, 2003 appearance of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. On December 4, the “Sax in the City” quartet will appear in the Lobby of the Vertical Campus. February 19, 2004 will feature the Ted Piltzecker Septet in the Vertical Campus Recital Hall. March 25, 2004, the Hinton series will present The Roberta Piket Trio with Billy Higgins (also in the Recital Hall).

The inaugural Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives concert in 1992 starred jazz bassist Milt Hinton himself together with his picks for an “All-Star” ensemble. This group consisted of Seldon Powell (saxophonist), Bob Rosengarden (Drums), Mike Walters (saxophone and woodwinds), Derek Smith (piano), Jay D’Amico (piano), Mike Grey (trombone), and John “Bucky” Pizzarelli (guitar). This magical first concert saw famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis join the group during the second half.

The following year Tito Puente and his big band also played to a full house with some students and faculty dancing in the aisles. In 1994 the concert was billed as a “Tribute to Women in Jazz” and featured a performance by singer Ruth Brown and Friends and the group Straight Ahead. In 1995 trombonist extraordinaire Slide Hampton and the Big Band Bird filled the bill for the fourth annual concert.

In 1996 America’s jazz statesman Dr. Billy Taylor and the Billy Taylor Trio graced the Baruch College stage. In 1997 Jerry Gonzalez and the Fort Apache Band gave a performance that offered a unique blend of Latin and jazz traditions. The 1998 concert presented virtuoso drummer Sherrie Maricle and the Diva Big Band.

The world famous Mingus Big Band played at the 8th annual concert in 1999. The Bronx Horns, consisting of Tito Puente’s brass section, together with Dave Valentin (flute) and Randy Brecker (trumpet), performed at the 9th annual concert in 2000. In 2001, The Heath Brothers (“Percy, Jimmy, and Tootie”) with special guest Jimmy Owens, performed at the 10th annual concert.

In 2002 the Hinton Committee expanded its offerings with a series of concerts, including a November 6, 2002 concert featuring “The Latin-Jazz All Stars” with several world-renown Latin-jazz musicians: trumpeter/leader Michael Mossman, tenor saxophonist David Sanchez, trombonist Steve Turre, pianist Arturo O’Farrill, alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, bassist Andy Gonzalez, and percussionist Phoenix Rivera. The 2002-2003 season also featured the Marty Sheller Big Band, Chris Washburne’s SYOTOS Latin-Jazz ensemble, and “Rumbamerica,” an Afro-Cuban ensemble made up of some of New York’s top Afro-Cuban drummers, singers, and dancers.

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