Continuing upon its journey down the yellow brick road of top-notch musical talent that populates the Great Lakes Bay area, the Michigan Jazz Trail will pick up hues of red, white & blue when it converges for a spectacular celebration on Sunday, July 7th with the Michigan Jazz Trail Big Band and Memorial Presbyterian Church collaborating for an old-fashioned summer gathering of Dixieland Jazz and homemade friend chicken, corn bread, and other delicious southern specialties provided by Annabelle' Own.
Pre-dinner entertainment on the lawn will feature the Michigan Jazz Trail Big Band performing with many featured guest artists, inviting everyone to take the warmth of friends and community.
Additionally, the newly installed Letourneau organ will be used for a special arrangement provided by James Hohmeyer, Carol Rumba, Mary Gilbert and Cythia Levi - all widely respected as three of the most enchanting voices in the region, who will sing together by popular demand and interweave vocal harmonies at once soulful, hauntingly dramatic, and rich with emotion.
The seven-member, stylishly-dressed, all-female gospel group Bamecians will also sing one of their favorites, Go Tell it on the Mountain; and of course the heart stomping Dixieland Jazz Band will set the mood and context for the evening.
According to Michigan Jazz Trail Big Band conductor and arranger James Hohmeyer, “The music selections for this event feature some of the best arrangements available by some of the top arrangers for the classic big bands. While not specifically patriotic, they represent the best in American contemporary music writing for the big band sound. Jeff Hall, the leader of the band, does a wonderful job of selecting some outstanding charts, some written by Jeff, with others penned by me.”
Since the inception of the Jazz Trail Big Band several years, how does Hohmeyer feel the group has grown, evolved and progressed? “The band started out with a bang and ever since our first rehearsal has become tighter and cleaner,” he reflects. “The talent in the group is amazing, featuring some of the finest players in the nation. Many members have played with national touring groups and top-name bands, such as Count Basie.”
For Hohmeyer, the biggest challenges involved with pulling these performances and showcases together are assuring that the music is rehearsed and ready. “Organizing the rehearsal so sections that need attention get the time they need, respecting the high level of artistry that each player brings to the rehearsal, and using that artistry to propel the rehearsal into a culmination of high artistic music making is always our goal.”
Hohmeyer notes that the band rehearses for 2 hours previous to the 'gig' and that most of the players drive hours to get to the job, as they hail from all over the Midwest. “Periodic rehearsals are impossible, and in this case, not needed. These musicians are 'one takers', which in studio lingo means they don't play wrong notes and can generally read anything written on sheet music at sight.”
“The vision of Jeff Hall and passion of Molly McFadden are the driving force behind this wonderful experience,” concludes Hohmeyer. “The success of this venture is due largely to Molly and Jeff's untiring devotion to the artistry of Big Band Jazz.”
The concert will begin at 6:00 PM in the sanctuary of Memorial Presbyterian Church on Sunday, July 7th and is FREE event. Memorial Presbyterian Church is located at 1310 Ashman Street, Midland. For ore information phone 989-835-6759 or 989-600-2534 or Annabelle's Own at 989-835-5344.