Trumpeter and vocalist Jeff Shadley has dubbed the band assembled for Thursday’s benefit show the Disaster Relief Orchestra.
That name aptly describes his and the group’s mission, which is to aid victims of the recent Oklahoma tornadoes by raising money for the Tulsa Chapter of the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. But area jazz fans who know their players could just as easily give the aggregation another title: the A Team.
“I’ll have a lot of the usual guys who work with me, including Victor Anderson on saxophone and Dave Johnson on trumpet,” says Shadley. “Mike Bennett is also coming in to play trumpet, Steve Ham to play trombone, Mike Cameron on tenor sax, and I’ll have a couple of [NSU Jazz Studies director] Tommy Poole’s students in there, too, who’re both really good.
“I’ve got two great pianists, Chuck Gardner and Scott McQuade, who’ll be trading off throughout the show. And there’s a tremendous lead trombone player named Zac Lee who’s coming in from Oklahoma City to play with us. I offered to at least give him gas money, and he wouldn’t even take that.“
All of the musicians are donating their services, as are Tulsa media figures Julie Chin and Michele Lowry, the emcees for the evening, and vocalists Cindy Cain, Pam Van Dyke Crosby, Sarah Maud, Rebecca Ungerman, Ruby Shadley, and Shadley himself, the featured singers at Thursday’s event.
“Ruby, my daughter, also has a quartet that will sing a couple of a cappella songs,” notes Shadley. “They’re kind of a cross between jazz and barbershop. They have tenor, bass, baritone, and alto [voices], like barbershop, but they go a little bit beyond that.”
In addition to the vocal numbers, he adds, the band itself will be showcased on several other tunes throughout the course of the evening, including a couple featuring Mike Bennett’s trumpet work.
“We’ll go from seven until eight p.m. with a combo, so people will be able to see and hear their favorite players in a small-combo setting,” says Shadley. “Then we’ll switch to the big band and go from eight until ten.”
Many, if not most, of the musicians and vocalists assembled for the all-star program have headlined their own shows, at the Jazz Depot and elsewhere. Pam Van Dyke Crosby, for instance, top-lined a well-received show last month to debut her new CD, Jazz on a Summer’s Night – Late, and pianist Gardner, along with his vocalist wife Sandy, has the latest in a long series of Jazz Depot shows scheduled for June 23. Shadley himself is a veteran Tulsa musician who was doing Jazz Hall of Fame shows even before the organization’s 2007 move from the Greenwood Cultural Center to the Jazz Depot.
“On YouTube, there’s a video clip of me performing out there at Greenwood,” he says. ” I think the first thing I started doing with them was Dean Martin, with the Rat Pack show. That was quite a while back.”
Also on the bill is the Tulsa Rock Quartet, whose publicity material describes it as dedicated to “bridging the gap between the classical and rock performance worlds, as well as all the worlds in-between.” Formerly known as the Tulsa Rock Ensemble, the group debuted in 2009 with a Cain’s Ballroom appearance and has played dozens of concerts since.
“I just saw them play at Guthrie Green, and they were really good,” Shadley says. “They’re all Tulsa Symphony Orchestra musicians except for Laura Talbott, who’s a professor of violin at Oklahoma State University. They were doing songs by Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, and they had a drummer with them who was right in the pocket, with a backbeat and everything.”
No admission will be charged for the event, but donations are encouraged. All the money raised will benefit the Tulsa Chapter of the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
“Everybody’s been doing their part to help our brothers and sisters in Moore during this tragic time,” says Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame CEO Jason McIntosh. “We’re glad to assist in any small way we can. This’ll be great talent helping a great cause, and we’re looking forward to everyone coming out and being a part of it.”
The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.