Savannah Center, Jan. 29th

The Orion Trio played to a packed room of almost 300 people at the Savannah Center on Thursday, January 29, 2015.  Our guest artist was Rudy Turner, guitarist and vocals, along with the usual suspects John Huber on bass, Jerry Bruno on drums, and Thomas Pizzi on keys.

The trio opened with the Bobby Timmons tune “Moanin'”, and then brought Rudy onstage with “Autumn Leaves”, which he opened with a beautiful solo guitar intro.  Then we went into a Wes Montgomery tune titled “West Coast Blues”, which was an unusual blues form written as a jazz waltz in three, followed by a Rudy Turner original called “Unknown Song”.  This had a calypso feel and a haunting melody, which I found myself humming days later.  We featured Rudy and Jerry on Rudy’s arrangement of Brubeck’s “Take Five”, which was in four, and then Rudy played the melody to the lovely ballad “My One and Only Love”.

At this point I called a switcheroo from the planned program, and we played Chick Corea’s classic “Spain”.  We then played the Ray Brown arrangement of “Summertime”, which is a funky version, and ended the show with an up tempo Richard “Groove” Holmes tune, which featured a Hammond B3 sound.  I wanted to do this tune because I used to listen to Groove Holmes when I was young, and it turns out Rudy toured with him for a while.

This show had a particularly spontaneous feel to me, because we didn’t finalize the set list and order until just before the show, and even then it wasn’t final.  I think that’s par for the jazz course, and adds a certain kind of energy to a performance.  It’s always a pleasure to work with and listen to our good friend Mr. Rudy Turner,  a uniquely talented man based in Ocala, FL.  He plays around town as a one man act, and worth catching it if you can.

In February we’ll be playing on Thursday the 26th, and will have an unusual line up featuring two artists.  Sheryl Genco will join us on violin, playing excerpts from Claude Bolling’s “Suite for Violin and Jazz Piano Trio”, popular in the 70s.  Then Phil Caltabellotta and his magic harmonica will share the stage with the trio performing jazz standards.  If you’ve never heard Phil, you’ll be amazed at the virtuosity of a world class player on his instrument.

Our best regards to all who were there for this show, thanks for coming and we hope you enjoyed it.  If you’re planning to see us Feb. 26th, please buy your tickets soon because I understand it’s 2/3 sold out already.

John Huber, Rudy Turner, Thomas Pizzi, Jerry Bruno

John Huber, Rudy Turner, Thomas Pizzi, Jerry Bruno

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

Savannah Center, Oct. 24th

Many thanks to everyone who showed up for our performance on Friday October 24th at the Savannah Center.  A crowd of about 300 seemed to enjoy the music, courtesy of John Depaolo on trumpet and flugelhorn, Jerry Bruno on drums, John Huber on bass, and Thomas Pizzi on keyboards.

The trio opened with the Linus and Lucy theme, since the time of the Great Pumpkin is near.  Then Mr. Depaolo joined us for a Clark Terry tune, led us into “Sweet Georgia Brown”, and then a Latin jazz tune by Poncho Sanchez.  We slowed things down with “Here’s That Rainy Day”, and then picked it up with another Latin jazz piece by Chick Corea called “Armando’s Rhumba”.  We closed with a medium swing version of “September in the Rain” and the fast bop “Scrapple From the Apple” by Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker.

It’s always a great pleasure for us to experience the sound of John Depaolo, with his great tone, cool licks, and sense of style and showmanship.  This concert was a lot of fun for us, especially since every tune we did with John D. was new to our repertory and a first time performance for each of them.  I’m sure we’ll be keeping them in the book.

Our next shows are November 20th, with Rex Wertz, and December 19th with Valerie Gillespie.  Mr. Wertz is the sax player in residence with the quintet at the Floridian Grand Hotel on the Disney property in Orlando.  He is a fabulous player, and it will be his first time performing with the trio.  Valerie Gillespie has played with us several times before, and it’s always a treat to hear her on tenor and alto sax, flute, and her lovely vocals.  The trio will also be at Garvino’s in Sumter Landing Oct. 30 and Nov. 8, 7-10pm.  Singers and players are welcome to do a tune or two with us.

So, we hope to see you there.  As always, admission is $5 for the one hour show, and soft drinks, coffee and tables are provided, and you may bring a box lunch.  Doors open at 11:30, show starts at noon, and you can purchase tickets at the door or any major rec center.  It’s advisable to buy them early, because they seem to have a habit of selling quickly.

Cheers, Thomas.


Music Lover’s Showcase

We will be performing September 19th at the Savanna Center’s annual Music Lover’s Showcase at 2-3pm in the main theater.  It is open to the public and you are welcome to enjoy a free one hour show with the trio.  We will have harmonica virtuoso Phil Caltabellotta with us, along with the talented Rudy Turner on guitar.

The showcase is a chance for anyone looking to hire a band for an occaision to scope out the local acts.  This is our first time performing for the showcase.  Please feel welcome to drop in, hear some talent and music, and support the arts.

Savannah Center, July 24th

Cal Gaines, Daily Sun Posted: Saturday, July 26, 2014 8:00 am A special guest star appeared in the Orion Trio’s constellation. Saxophonist Valerie Gillespie joined the resident jazz group of Thomas Pizzi on keyboards, John Huber on bass and Jerry Bruno on drums during a sold-out lunchtime performance Thursday at Savannah Center.

Cal Gaines, Daily Sun
Posted: Saturday, July 26, 2014 8:00 am
A special guest star appeared in the Orion Trio’s constellation. Saxophonist Valerie Gillespie joined the resident jazz group of Thomas Pizzi on keyboards, John Huber on bass and Jerry Bruno on drums during a sold-out lunchtime performance Thursday at Savannah Center.

It was great to see such a receptive and enthusiastic crowd of over two hundred people for our final concert of the summer.  Our featured guest artist was Valerie Gillespie, who played alto and tenor sax, alto flute, and sang and scatted four songs beautifully.  The show had a Horace Silver theme, dedicated to the great pianist and composer who passed away last month.

The trio opened with a Red Garland arrangement of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” by Gershwin.  Valerie sang “Almost Like Being In Love”, followed by two instrumental Horace tunes, “Song For My Father” and “Filthy McNasty”.  Some others were “Skylark” as a samba/swing, “The Very Thought Of You”, a very up-tempo  “I Got Rhythm”, a funky version of “Summertime”, and ended with the hard-swinging Horace tune “Sister Sadie”.

I can’t help but think, as some said afterwards, that it was our best concert yet, but it seems like that after every show.  However, I certainly prefer that to any alternatives, and I like the feeling of keeping a high standard of performance.  It must be working, because we keep seeing the same faces of many returning jazz fans.

Many thanks to Savannah Center manager Debbie Hurtt for being such a great supporter and friend, and producing this concert series.  Also, thanks to all the helpful staff there who work so hard to make it enjoyable for everyone.  We look forward to kicking off a new season October 24th, 2014 and hope to see you all there!

Savannah Center, June 20th concert

Thanks to all who attended our concert on June 20th and made it a great experience for all of us in the band. This was our first opportunity to play with Phil Caltabellotta on the harmonica, and definitely won’t be the last. He is clearly a world-class player, and the audience responded accordingly with their enthusiastic support throughout the show. Then, to top it all off, we were joined by Billy Perbetsky on trumpet and Flugelhorn, an old friend of John Huber. Billy plays with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and has played with many others including Lawrence Welk. It really capped off a swinging show to hear his strong sound, and between Phil, Billy, John on Bass, Thomas Pizzi on piano and Jerry Bruno on drums, the band pushed out a lot of energy.

It’s always amazing to me (Thomas) how these shows always seem to come together and turn into such memorable events, because they start with such modest beginnings of doing simple songs we’ve known for many years, and usually without much in the way of fancy arrangements. Then I realize it’s the musicians who make them come alive by adding their personality, creativity and energy. I’ve always been impressed by someone who can take a simple song I’ve heard many times and turn it into something interesting, fresh and creative, which some would say is the essence of Jazz.

I’m quite proud to be on stage with the caliber of musicians that have been associated with this concert series. We’ve been doing these concerts for over a year now, and I’m pleased to report we’ve just been asked to extend the series to Dec. 2014. I look forward to the challenge of maintaining the high level of artistry and perhaps even raising the bar a bit! Thanks again for your support, and we hope to see you at the July 24th show. Our featured guest artist will be Valerie Gillespie on sax and vocals.

North Lake PC, June 15th

We had a terrific concert on June 15 at North Lake Presbyterian Church. The trio accompanied Lisa Elliott and Sam Reynolds in front of a sold-out crown of 400, and the response was very enthusiastic. The repertoire ranged from Pucchini to Chick Corea, and included many Broadway show tunes such as the duet “Tonight” from West Side Story, “All I Ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera, jazz standards like “Luck Be a Lady” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”, and several instrumentals by the trio, including “Blue Rondo a la Turk” by Dave Brubeck. Coffee and dessert was served at tables cabaret-style, and the guys really liked working with Lisa and Sam,  and hope to be back again soon.

The Orion Trio

The Orion Trio has been in existence since Fall, 2012 when we made our debut at Garvino’s in Sumpter Landing.  It is the lucky meeting of three of the best musicians in The Villages: Jerry Bruno – drums, John Huber – upright bass, and Thomas Pizzi – piano.  We are highly experienced professionals, having played all our lives and still enjoy playing.  We play traditional jazz standards in a (mostly) traditional jazz fashion.

To read our bios, please see the ‘About The Trio’ page.

To find out where we are playing, please see our ‘Upcoming Performances’ page.

For pictures and recordings, please see the “Media’ page.