The Myron and Booker Variety Show at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

Myron and Booker

In vocalist Booker Gillespie, Myron Oliver has found a kindred spirit – especially when it comes to the local music scene. Like saxophonist Oliver, Gillespie not only performs a lot in and around Tulsa; he also appreciates the amount of talent he sees and hears when he’s a member of the audience.

           “So Booker and I decided to book a variety show,” says Oliver. “Whatever we do, we’re big supporters of local talent, no matter what genre or what style it is. This is a chance for us to play with the guys – some of the guys, at least – we like, and get to share some of that local talent on the Jazz Hall stage.”

Oliver has been down this path before, most recently in October of 2012, when he brought a similar variety of talent to the Jazz Depot in a well-received event billed as the Myron Oliver Friday Night Showcase.

“And for the most part,” he notes, “we’ve got different people than I had on that one. There’s so much talent in Tulsa. You can go out every night and hear somebody different and be equally wowed by what you hear.”

Oliver and Gillespie have both been wowing Tulsa crowds themselves, both together and separately, for the past several years. In addition to performing jazz-oriented shows together, Gillespie sings with Oliver’s busy cover band, FuZed.

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“We wanted to do something a little bit different from what we do when we’re playing in front of the party dance crowd on the late-night thing,” explains Oliver, “so we put together a band of musicians that aren’t the ones we normally play with – some of our musical cohorts. We’ve got Adrion Robbins, who’s played keyboards with Charlie Redd and Starr Fisher and a bunch of different people. Randy Cook is playing drums. I’m in another band, called Echo, with him. Travis Fite is playing guitar, and David Mooney’s on bass.

“We’ve got a variety of different music and some guest singers. Of course, the ladies from FuZed [Tina Phillips and Oliver’s wife, Tylisha Oliver] are going to sing a few songs and do some background vocals. We’ve got some Stevie Ray Vaughan in the set from Dylan Whitney, a young guitar player who’s one of my favorites. I think he’s 17 years old now, but I’ve known him since he was about 13. He’s been a professional for years. He’s just amazing.”

Another youngster on the bill is vocalist Alexsa Oliver, Myron and Tylisha’s fourteen-year-old daughter.  Other featured performers include saxophonist Paul Chatman and singer Benjamin Smith.

“I met Paul at the Jazz Hall, at one of the Tuesday Night Jams, probably six months ago or so, and we hit it off well. Since then, he’s been my go-to guy on saxophone, whenever I’m needing another horn to fill out a full band song, or to fill in on a gig that someone’s contacted me about. I want to get him some gigs out there and give him some exposure.

“Benjamin Smith is like the king of karaoke, and I say that in the best way. I met him a year and a half or two years ago, and I’ve been trying to get him up on stage with a band. The guy can sing. He puts you in mind of Luther Vandross or Teddy Pendergrass, and I had to get him in on this.”

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Then, of course, there’ll be the contributions of Gillespie and Oliver.

“Booker’s going to unveil an original song, a blues tune, and we’ve got a few other blues tunes on there,” says Oliver. “We’ve got a couple of standards, a little neo-soul, some R&B and jazz-funk. I’ve got some songs that are just going to be saxophone, with no vocals, so we’ll spread things out pretty well.

“Booker and I like a lot of the same kinds of music, and while we know that people will always try to put you in a box, we’re so far outside of any box people would want to put us in,” he adds with a laugh. “We’re diverse in the types of music we like and can perform well. Booker’s got an original country song – he loves country music. And my band, FuZed, covers everything. If they request country, we play country. If they request pop and rock, we can do that. Having that common life in music makes it fun for us.”

And, he notes, it’s also fun to present a variety of music to the audiences at the Jazz Depot.

 

“For us to be able to get somebody who’s known for rock or for R&B to be on that stage playing jazz, blues, funk, soul, whatever, just sheds light on how diverse the Jazz Hall really is and how much it supports music in general. It’s called the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, but people don’t know that any artistry is accepted and welcome there.”
The Myron and Booker Variety Show is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, March 1, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, from www.jazzhalltickets.com, or by calling 918-928-JAZZ. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.  Refreshments will be available for purchase.

The show is the first in the Jazz Hall’s 2015 Spring Concert Series.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fameis 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 the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.

jazz hall at night

Sheridan Road Christmas Concert at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

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SHERIDAN ROAD CHRISTMAS SHOW TO BE A HOLIDAY FAVORITE

According to their director, Dr. Barry Epperley, members of the three-man, three-woman vocal-jazz group Sheridan Road went through “at least 100 different pieces” of Christmas music before selecting the material they wanted to perform in their Sunday Jazz Depot concert. And what they came up with, notes Epperley with a chuckle, was “some music that’s really sweet, some really hot jazz, and some that’s just completely goofy.”

It’s hard to know which of those categories applies to the group’s planned opening number. Epperley first encountered it during his days of working with the Walt Disney Company at Disneyland in the early 1970s, when he produced a musical program with the veteran actor and musical performer Elsa Lanchester.

“It’s a street cry from London; she had heard a street vendor selling lavender, and for her, it was a Christmas thing,” he recalls. “So I adapted that to the show we were doing, and she sang it, sort of. It was called `Won’t You Buy My Sweet Blooming Lavender.’

“I remembered it, and we found it and rewrote it for our group. So [Sheridan Road member] Steve Raiford is going to start the evening going through the audience singing `Won’t You Buy My Sweet Blooming Lavender.’”

And while that sounds pretty off-trail for a Christmas concert, it’s far from the only unusual song on the bill.

“We’re doing a little set of Alfred Burt carols,” he explains. “Alfred Burt’s father was a minister in the Midwest, and every year he and his church organist, Wilha Huston, would write a Christmas carol, put it on a card, and mail it to the people on their Christmas list. In 1942, Alfred started writing the words. You may not know the titles, but you’ll hear them playing when you walk through a mall: `We’ll Dress the House,’ `Caroling, Caroling,’ ‘`Some Children See Him’ – which is probably his most popular. They’re all straight-ahead and pretty sweet.

“From there,” he adds, “we’ll go to a very raucous and jazz-filled `Jingle Bells,’ and it kind of changes everything.”549366c5af0de.image

The group plans to end the first half of the show with a musical arrangement of “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” originally performed by the big-band-era act Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians and arranged by Harry Simeone, who would later become famous for another Christmas evergreen, “The Little Drummer Boy.”

“When I was a little kid,” Epperley recalls, “my father was the choir director at Stillwater High School, and one of the early things I remember with him is `Twas the Night Before Christmas.’ When my family gets together for the holidays, we always sing, and we always close with that. It tells the story humorously and with a good deal of fun.”

Other unusual holiday songs that Depot patrons can expect Sunday include one from PeterSchickele, aka P. D. Q. Bach, called “Throw the Yule Long on Uncle John”; “Hard Candy Christmas,” a Dolly Parton composition from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; and the Harry Connick Jr. arrangement of “(It Must’ve Been Ol‘) Santa Claus.”

Epperley himself created a kind of “Carol of the Bells” medley for the show.

“We have the old Peter Wilhousky arrangement, which he brought over from Russia. That’s the one everybody knows,” he says. “Then I happened on to the Jay Rouse arrangement, which is real swingy and just builds toward a screaming end. I put them together, adjusted the keys, and we just elided them. It’s really, really fun to sing.”

Scheduled to join Epperley on stage for all the fun are the other members of Sheridan Road, minus one.

“Because of some previous commitments and other things in her world, Jenn Green is not going to be with us,” he says. “Brenda Bussman, whom I’ve worked with for a long time, is filling in, and she’s got a really sweet kind of midrange soprano. I did a gospel octet over at Christ United Methodist Church for probably 10 years, and she was one of my folks there, so I know her capabilities. She’s got the second soprano role, and I’ve moved Marla [Patterson] up to first.”

In addition to Patterson, Bussman, Raiford, and Epperley, the group includes Brian and Jennifer Wilson (who are not related). The band is the same trio that played with the group at its October Jazz Depot show: pianist Rob Muraoka, bassist Jim Loftin, and drummer George Toumayan.

“We all like each other,” Epperley says. “You can tell it on stage.”

“Sheridan Road is a relatively new act, and this is their first Christmas show,” says Jason McIntosh, Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame CEO. “But I expect it to be an annual concert, and to quickly become a sure tradition for many families.”

The Sheridan Road Christmas Concert is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, December 21, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street.

Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, from www.JazzHallTickets.com, or by calling 918.928.JAZZ. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.

The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2014-5 Winter Concert Series.

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 the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

 

 

Cynthia Simmons Performs at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

 

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Vocalist Cynthia Simmons Celebrates the Season

with Jingle Bell Jazz at the Jazz Depot

As the co-producer and star, with fellow vocalist Pam Van Dyke Crosby, of last month’s Tribute to Cole Porter concert, Cynthia Simmons was looking forward to presenting a few Porter songs to the Jazz Depot crowd.

But then, things happened.

“I twisted my ankle the week before the show,” she explains, “and then theday before, when we were getting ready to rehearse, I got ill on top of that. So I had to say, `I need to stay home, Pam. I’m sorry.'”

Undoubtedly, there were several Simmons fans in the audience who were sorry, too. But if they come out to Cynthia Simmons Presents Jingle Bell Jazz Sunday, they’ll hear her do at least a couple of the tunes she had all ready for the Porter show, including “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” and “Miss Otis Regrets.”IMGP4875

“I happen to love Christmas songs, so this show is an opportunity to do some of my favorites,” she says. “But I’ll also throw some regular jazz songs in, including some of the ones I didn’t get to do at the Cole Porter show.”

This is the fourth time in a relatively short stretch that Simmons has headlined her own Depot concert, which gives testimony to her popularity with area jazz fans. An Oklahoma City native, she moved to Tulsa a few years ago and happened to connect on Facebook with noted jazz pianist Scott McQuade, who had himself recently arrived in Tulsa from his native Canada. That led to a meeting at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, and from there to her subsequent performances on the Jazz Depot, both in ensemble casts and headlining her own shows.

For this one, she’ll be backed by two players well known to Depot audiences, bassist Nathan Eicher and drummer Wade Robertson. Her pianist for the evening, though, may not be quite as well known at this end of the Turner Turnpike as he is in his hometown.

adam ledbetter 1“He’s Adam Ledbetter, who’s from Oklahoma City,” notes Simmons. “I met him through [saxophonist] Mike Cameron when we did the Don Byas tribute at theJazz Hall last year. He’s worked with Rebecca Ungerman a little bit, and some of the other people around town. I just did a show in Oklahoma City, and he’s the person I used; he and I have just kind of connected. He’s come in and done some things at Main Street Tavern with me, too. And he’s just an excellent, excellent musician.”

In addition to the straight jazz tunes, Simmons plans to give jazzy twists to holiday classics, including the likes of “Santa Baby” and “The Christmas Song.”

“I know Mel Torme wrote `The Christmas Song,’ but whenever I think of it, I usually hear Nat King Cole,” Simmons says. “It just gives me chills to hear him singing it — and it gives me chills to sing it. It’s one of my favorite songs to sing.

“I’m also going to do `What A Wonderful World,'” she added. “I know it’s not a Christmas song, but you hear it so much at Christmas, and it’s just a great song.”

At least one number on her Sunday playlist may be a bit of a surprise, however, veering Simmons at least temporarily away from the style of music she’s known for.

“I’m probably going to do `O, Holy Night,'” reveals Simmons. “My background is not pure jazz; in my past, I used to do more gospel and classical things. I love Mahalia Jackson – who I learned recently also sang jazz at one point in her career. I just love her voice. She was my mother’s favorite gospel singer, and I grew up listening to her do `O. Holy Night’ on a Christmas album my mom had.mahalia-jackson

“It was really an album, too,” she adds with a laugh. “You know, an LP, where you have to put the needle down. And now, I’m dating myself.”

  Cynthia Simmons Presents Jingle Bell Jazz is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, December 15, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, fromwww.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2013-14 Winter Concert Series.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fameis 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.

jazz hall at night

 

2013 ABOT Award Winner Angie Cockrell performs at Woodland Hills Mall July 20, 2013

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Angie is a singer, songwriter, recording artist with a rich, soulful voice whose influences range from jazz, soft rock, pop, blues, and classic country. A versatile artist, Angie loves incorporating her passion and style into all genres of music. Angie has produced two Cd’s “Good Things” (2012) and “Color Me Blue”(2013) and performs in and around the Tulsa area for dinner clubs, parties, weddings, and private events.

She has been nominated 3 years in a row in ABoT Music Awards and has won several awards for performance and songwriting including this years AboT Award in the Christian category. Angie is a solo artist and works with many accomplished musicians in Tulsa either in a duo or jazz trio setting performing standards, covers, and originals.

She will be performing on the upper level near Godiva from 12:00-2:00 pm with Scott McQuade on Keyboard and Mike Cameron on Sax.

For more info about Angie and her music click these links:

http://www.angiecockrell.com/

https://tulsajazz.wordpress.com/upcoming-events/

https://www.facebook.com/TulsaJazz1

https://www.facebook.com/tulsajazzgroup

http://www.reverbnation.com/angiecockrelljazz

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Celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month

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Jazz Apprecation Month month is over and we look forward to International Jazz Day next year, we hope you have enjoyed celebrating Jazz during the month of April as much as we have. Listed below are ideas and events you can do or sponsor to continue to celebrate this great art form not only in April but all year long.

Thank you for continuing to support jazz and may the rest of your year be prosperous, joyous, and musically rich.

Sincerely,

Tulsa Jazz

Ways To Celebrate Jazz:

Watch the International Jazz Day global concert happening in Istanbul on YouTube: http://YouTube.com/intljazzday

Attend a concert by your local high school or college jazz band.

Listen to a jazz CD that is new to you. Try to stretch your ears. If you need some guidance, try The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 4th edition, by Richard Cook and Brian Morton, Tom Piazza’s Guide to Classic Recorded Jazz.

Read a good book on jazz.

Find a new jazz website.

Listen to a radio station that plays genuine jazz.

Go to “This Date in Jazz History” (at www.SmithsonianJazz.org), pick an anniversary, and go out find some music by that musician to explore.

Pay a pilgrimage to your favorite jazz city, or to a jazz museum, or to a musician’s birthplace or grave site.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

View Satchmo, Jazz on a Summer’s Day, Straight No Chaser, or another jazz documentary or performance video.

Check out the jazz offerings or find your local NPR station, on the web site www.npr.jazz.org.

Log onto a distant jazz radio station on the web. For example, KLON (www.klon.org), WBGO (www.wbgo.org), or WWOZ (www.wwoz.org) which features New Orleans music.

If you travel in the United States, use The Da Capo Jazz and Blues Lover’s Guide to the U.S., by Christiane Bird, as your guide to jazz clubs and historical locations in 25 cities.

Join your local jazz society. If none exists, organize one.

Subscribe to a jazz magazines, such as Down Beat, Jazz Times, Jazziz. Others include: Cadence, Marge Hofacre’s Jazz News, The Mississippi Rag, and from Canada, Coda, Planet Jazz, and The Jazz Report.

Host jazz listening sessions in your home.

Hold a jazz-themed party in honor of a favorite musician, or to celebrate jazz in general.

Read a jazz-related poem–such as those in The Jazz Poetry Anthology, edited by Sascha Feinstein and Yusef Komunyakaa or their The Second Set: The Jazz Poetry Anthology, Volume 2.

Consider a jazz-related artwork (such as those reproduced in Seeing Jazz: Artists and Writers on Jazz, compiled by the Smithsonian Institution’s Marquette Folley-Cooper, Deborah Macanic, and Janice O’Neil.)

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Tulsa Jam’Bassadors Chosen as Finalist for Mingus Foundation Competition

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Tulsa Jam’Bassadors Chosen as Finalist for Mingus Foundation Competition

Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame’s All-City Band to Host Benefit February 2nd to Send Students to NYC

            In its very first year to enter the national Charles Mingus High School Competition, the Tulsa Jam’bassadors All-City Band has rocketed into the finals. The 18 young musicians, chosen from several Tulsa public schools as well as from the charter Tulsa School of Arts & Sciences, are set to travel to New York City on the weekend of February 15th. There, they’ll play against two other finalists, the SFJazz High School All-Stars Orchestra from San Francisco, California and the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Big Band from New York, New York.

It’s the fifth year of the Mingus event, named for the trailblazing jazz composer, bandleader, and bassist.

“This is an amazing band,” says Jazz Hall of Fame CEO Jason McIntosh of the Jam’bassadors. “We assembled some of the best high school musicians from throughout the Tulsa Public School system and the Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences. Working with music directors Doug Styers and TimShadley, we started in August and rehearsed throughout December, before turning in our recorded submission of three Mingus songs to the contest. There was incredible competition, but we were chosen as one of the three finalists in our big-band category.”

A total of 12 combos and big bands were selected from across the United States and Canada. The Jam’bassadors will compete as one of three finalists in the “Big Band — Specialized Schools and Programs” category.

“Out of all twelve, we’re the only school from the Midwest,” says co-director Shadley. “The closest to us is a conservatory in Milwaukee. Most of the bands are from the East and West Coasts.”

The Jam’bassadors, along with special guests, will perform the Saturday night fundraising show at the Jazz Depot. They will perform several Mingus compositions.

“The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is the key to all of this,” Shadley says. “There are only a few other places like it in the whole country, places that specialize in jazz education and outreach.Oklahomans are fortunate to have such resources and this musical treasure. The Mingus project is a great example of the leading role the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame plays in music education.”jazz hall

CEO McIntosh has long been an advocate for strong music and arts programs in the school system. So, when McIntosh commenced this project to establish an all-city band he reached out to dedicated and like-minded educators, Styers and Shadley, and they were immediately on board.

“We decided to focus on Tulsa Public Schools, and we wanted to reach out to TSAS as well,” he says. “We started going to different schools and recruiting the students.”

Styers, the jazz chair for Tulsa Public Schools, joined Shadley as a director early in the fall semester, and before long they had the newly minted Jam’bassadors focused and rehearsing. And while some may be surprised at the band’s success in the competition its first time out, the founders are not.

“We have good young musicians to draw on in Tulsa, as well as outstanding band directors at Tulsa Public and TSAS,” McIntosh says. “Doug Styers and Tim Shadley have really been excellent in working with the band members, picking out the dedicated musicians.”

“The students are great. They’re listening to the music on their iPods, on their own, they’re putting in an amazing amount of rehearsal time. They’re committed. They have come together to make this happen,” Styers says.

“For most of the students, it was their first time to hear and play Mingus’ compositions,” adds McIntosh, “so it was all new and dynamic. We have some other dedicated musicians involved with our efforts. In addition to Doug and Jeff, Dr. Tommy Poole came in to instruct with the saxes, Nick Foster with the percussion, Jordan Hehl with the bass. There were a lot of the “older” musicians working with the kids – although ‘older,’ in this case, means musicians in their early to mid 20s.”

In addition to competing in New York, McIntosh adds, the members of the Jam’bassadors will be involved in several jazz workshops with other outstanding student musicians from across North America.

“Right out of the gate, we make the finals,” Shadley says. “I already feel like a winner. And one of the things I hope is that this will help us keep building a culture of jazz together in the schools.”

“I was talking to some of the kids a couple of days ago, and I said, `What if, in ten years, we’ve had bands going to the Mingus Competition, to New York, every year? How would it make you feel to know that you’d started the whole thing?’”

The Tulsa Jam’bassadors’ show is set to begin Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets for the event can be purchased at the Depot or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.  Refreshments will be available for purchase.

McIntosh says that 100 percent of the money from admissions will go toward financing the band’s trip to the Mingus Competition finals. Donations above the ticket price will also be welcome.

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 Oklahomansthrough preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.

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