Month: December 2014

Savannah Center, Dec. 19th

On Friday Dec. 19th, the Orion Trio with guest artist Valerie Gillespie played for a record sell-out crowd of 382 people.  Thanks to all our loyal fans and friends who turned out and showed support.  To newcomers, we extend a big welcome and hope you enjoyed yourselves enough to return for future performances.

Our show had a Christmas theme, using six jazzy arrangements of carols, and nine tunes in all.  The trio opened with an Oscar Peterson arrangement of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, with the melody played by John Huber on bass.  We then brought Valerie onstage with the classic Charlie Parker bop tune “Billie’s Bounce”.  We featured several songs from Valerie’s Christmas album including “Silver Bells”, “Angels We Have Heard On High”, and the title track “It Can’t Be Christmas Without You”.  This is an original tune written by her brother, and was beautifully sung by Valerie.

We played the often requested “Take 5” from Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out” album, featuring Valerie on Alto sax, and followed that with drummer Jerry Bruno’s arrangement of “Little Drummer Boy”.  We ended the show with Mel Torme’s famous “Christmas Song”, also known as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”, again sung by Valerie, and closed with Horace Silver’s hard swinging “Sister Sadie”.

It’s always a treat to perform on the same stage as Valerie, and she is clearly a crowd favorite here in The Villages.  It was a real solid show with many interesting arrangements, thanks to her and the boys in the band.  Again, many thanks to all who came and helped make our performance a success.  It’s so rewarding to see such an appreciative turnout, and very inspiring for the next show.  By the way, that will be Jan. 29th, and we will feature Rudy Turner on guitar and vocals.

My thanks to Michael Fortuna of The Villages Daily Sun for his nice article in Friday’s paper about the trio and this concert, and to Debbie Hurtt and the staff at the Savannah Center for doing such a great job accommodating the large audience and putting on such a good production.

Happy Holidays to all!

Dec. 19 2014

Valerie Gillespie, John Huber, Jerry Bruno, Thomas Pizzi

Savannah Center, Nov. 20th

It was a pleasure to listen to the smooth sound and intricate bop lines of Rex Wertz on tenor sax, our guest artist at the November lunch concert.  He is a quiet and unassuming man who plays in the very professional 5 piece jazz band at the Grand Floridian Hotel on the Disney property.  Rex is a long time friend of bassist John Huber, and they played together in Harrisburg PA early in their careers.  This concert was the first time they’ve had the opportunity to play again since then, and it was a treat for all who attended.

The trio opened with the Miles Davis tune “So What”, and then brought Rex on stage with “Bye, Bye Blackbird”.  It was followed by a Latin-swing version of “I’ll Remember April” and the ballad “Someone to Watch Over Me”.  Then John and Rex led the quartet by doubling (playing in unison) on the complex melody of a Billy Taylor bop tune, “One For the Woofer”.  We then played the soulful C.A. Jobim bossa nova “Triste”, and the highly spirited Calypso tune “St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins.  The show ended with an up-tempo Latin-swing version of “Skylark”.

We all enjoyed working with Rex, and hope to have him back soon.  Many thanks to all who attended and showed their enthusiastic response, and we hope to see you at the next one.  On December 19th we will feature Valerie Gillespie as our guest artist, and will perform some jazzy Christmas tunes along with standard jazz repertory.Rex and John

Rex Wertz and John Huber