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Big Band Jazz Showcased at Viridian Center

Jan 28, 2016 12:33PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Mylinda LeGrande | mylinda@mycityjournals.com

West Jordan - Audience members were in for a special treat on Jan. 9 at the Viridian Event Center in West Jordan. A beautifully decorated venue featuring a silvery sheer fabric backdrop lit vertically with strings of lights set the stage for the show. The concert was part of the “Excellence in the Community Concert Series.”  Founded in 2005, it is a 501-C3, non-profit organization, sponsored by ZAP, Larry H & Gail Miller Family Foundation along with other charities. 

“We are a startup, grassroots do-it-yourself organization. We are trying to make more of a deal of Utah musicians, using quality music to enhance the community. This gives kids the chance to hear different kinds of music, before they get steamrolled by the system.  We do this once a month here [at Viridian] and once a week at the Gallivan Center,” Jeff Whitely, managing director for the concert series, said.

The show was Tom Young Septet, a jazz band. It was the first time the band actually performed together, but that wasn’t obvious because those in the band “gelled well” together as they played. Each member of the septet brought a diverse and impressive musical background, which added to the end product of the performance.

Tom Young, trumpet and vocals, was raised in New Canann, Conn., where he began studying classical trumpet at age 12. He was mentored by Harry Connick, Jr. and is a student at Snow College and member of bands, The Hot Club of Zion and No Limits.

Philip Kuehn, bass, started playing jazz at the age of 12. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in jazz studies from Juilliard School. He performed at the White House and Kennedy Center with the late Dr. Billy Taylor. 

Steve Lyman, drums, studied at The New School in New York City in 2005.  He studied with legendary drummers Ari Hoenig, Jim Black and Nasheet Waits.

Kurt Reeder, piano, began studying jazz at age 12. After earning a bachelor’s degree at BYU in jazz studies, he went on to earn a master’s degree in jazz performance from California State University.  Currently, he is teaching at Pioneer High Performing Arts School and at UVU.

Rahsaan Pickett, guitar, played with his school jazz band and earned The Jazz House Kids’ Scholarship. He is currently enrolled in Snow College. 

Nelsen Campbell, trombone, played with the Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra, Birch Creek Music Academy and attends Snow College.

David Halliday, saxophone, has a bachelor’s degree in saxophone performance from BYU and a master’s in jazz performance and composition from the U of U. He is a professor at the U of U, instructor at Westminster College and faculty member at SLCC. 

This program included songs influenced, written or performed by Louis Armstrong and Amy Winehouse.  Some of the selections included, “Blue Again” (Jimmy McHugh), “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” (Kalmar/Ruby/Hammerstein), “Sunny Side of the Street” (Jimmy McHugh), “The Gypsy” (Billy Reid), “La Vie En Rose” (Edith Piaf/Marguerite Monnot), “Freight Trane” (Tommy Flannagan), “Someone to Watch Over Me” (Gershwin), “Know You Now” (Amy Winehouse), “Save it Pretty Mama” (Don Redman/Denniker/Davis) and “What a Wonderful World” (Bob Thiele/George David Weiss), as well as a few original selections by Tom Young.  

The program had a big band sound along with some classic jazz. Each member of the septet had his turn to showcase his talent with a solo at various times throughout the program. The concert was also attended by a group of swing dancers whom enjoyed dancing in a pre designated area, along with other audience members that was specifically lighted for the purpose. 

Concert attendee, Donna Frey, comes often with George and Louse Frey. 

“We come every second Saturday of the month. It is fabulous.  They are all so wonderful and it is something to look forward to every month. These [concerts] are close by, local and the turn out is getting better and better,” she said.  

The director, Whitely, encourages the community to look for upcoming concert events to be held at the Viridian Events Center. Feb.13 - City Jazz Big Band, “Valentine’s Dance;” March 12 - Cross Strung, “Saint Patrick’s Celtic Celebration;” April 9 - Thurl Baily & Wasatch Jazz Project, “A Salute to Frank Sinatra;” and on May 14 - Utah Opera Resident Artist for “Once Upon a Time.”

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