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Jazz orchestra coming to Lone Tree Arts Center

Basie, Ellington, Wonder wrote musical pieces to be performed


“I started the CJRO (Colorado Jazz Repertory Orchestra) out of respect and affection for this art form,” said Lone Tree resident Art Bouton, who is professor of saxophone and co-chair of jazz studies at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. In 2012, the orchestra debuted at Lone Tree Arts Center, drawing musicians Bouton considered to be “the best players around … We’ve played this music before, but it is entirely different when it is in a concert setting with great players and an attentive audience.”

The CJRO will return to the Lone Tree Arts Center for a concert called “The Duke, The Count and Stevie too!” at 7:30 May 11, with support from the Lone Tree Cultural Foundation.

Expect to hear music from the libraries of Duke Ellington and Count Basie: “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “My Cherie Amour,” and new arrangements from the orchestra’s upcoming recording of Wonder’s music: “Overjoyed, the Music of Stevie Wonder.” In 2016, the CJRO recorded “Invitation,” with arrangements of classic big band tunes by current band members, Bouton said. It was released internationally.

CJRO vocalist Heidi Schmidt will perform with the band on May 11. Schmidt, who has sung with the band for five years, was born in Denver, then moved to Saudi Arabia and Romania with her family. She returned to Denver to complete studies in music and international relations at The University of Denver. She teaches at Red Rocks Community College and continues to sing professionally.

Included in the CJRO roster, in addition to Bouton: co-chair of jazz studies at Lamont School of Music and Maynard Ferguson alum Steve Weist, trombone; pianist Eric Gunnison, who has played for jazz vocalist Carmen MacRae and with the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Band; trombonist and Woody Herman alum Paul McKee; drummer Mike Marlier; and bassist Bijou Barbarosa …

In recent years, jazz trumpeter Greg Gisbert has performed regularly with the CJRO. According to an internet history, he played drums with his father while attending Walt Whitman Elementary School in Littleton. He attended Heritage High School and played with the 1983-84 McDonald’s All American High School Jazz Band. He attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and recorded with jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut as part of Phil Wilson’s Rainbow Band, which led to an offer to go on tour with Buddy Rich, embarking on an impressive career. He plays lead trumpet with Wynton Marsalis’ Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and is a founding member of Convergence, which often performs at Dazzle Jazz, and had an eight-week residency at Nocturne Jazz and Supper Club in Denver.

During earlier career years, he helped in south area schools with other local jazz professionals and educators in after-school education programs we visited.

Bouton said the orchestra has performed for large audiences at the Arvada Center, PACE Center, Lakewood Cultural Center and the Rialto Theater in Loveland in the past four years. PACE has also featured a smaller ensemble in the renovated Schoolhouse Theater on several occasions.

Looking ahead: the CJRO will perform in Arvada Center’s amphitheater on July 21, featuring vocalist Steve Lippia, recreating the famous recording “Basie and Sinatra, Live at the Sands.” In the next season the orchestra will present “The Music of Count Basie with Ray Charles” at the PACE Center and four themed concerts at the Arvada Center.


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