THE RJO BLOG

Jazz History


I Hope in Time a Change Will Come

Racism has been a plague on humanity reaching back to the Pharaohs over 5,000 years ago and continues to haunt us to this day.  I was disheartened when the Black Lives Matter marches began as a result of black deaths at the hands of police.  Why? 

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Reno Jazz in the World

The Reno Jazz Orchestra’s mission (RJO) is focused on jazz performance and education. My article this month introduces you to three Reno musicians who graduated from UNR, performed with the RJO, and are now out in the world creating new music for this generation. 

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The Art of Jazz in the time of Social Distancing

We are all coping with Covid-19 as best we can so I thought today I would share how three local musicians are keeping jazz and more importantly our spirits alive and well. Let’s start with Dallas Smith.

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Stan Kenton - Artistry in Jazz

Each spring and fall we host a concert at the intimate one hundred seat Good Luck Macbeth theater in mid-town.  This November 8th and 9th we are featuring the music of Stan Kenton, legendary bandleader and pioneer in jazz education.  A perfect fit as our guest conductor is Vern Scarbrough, director of the Reno Youth Orchestra, and students participating in our Saturday morning jazz workshop open the concert.  First, let me tell you about Kenton and his connection to jazz education...

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Jazz Orchestras, A Great American Heritage

I have been fortunate to lead the Reno Jazz Orchestra since 2006, and over the years we have grown due to the support of our community. Thank you all! This month we will revisit the origins of the jazz orchestra, after which I will share three new RJO projects that honor the past and look to the future...

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A Loving Tribute to Aretha Franklin

The Reno Jazz Orchestra (RJO) will present “The Queen of Soul, a Loving Tribute to Aretha Franklin” July 15th at the Hawkins Amphitheater as an Artown presentation and July 22nd at the Sand Harbor Trepp Amphitheater.  Both shows start at 7:30 pm.  The RJO firmly embraces Duke Ellington’s famous quote “There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind.”  We chose this tribute to celebrate a true American original.

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A Jazz Orchestra for the New Millennium

The Reno Jazz Orchestra’s recent concerts at the Good Luck Macbeth theater May 31 and June 1 featured the compositions and arrangements of Vince Mendoza. I suspect most of you have not heard his name, but I am certain you have heard his music. With 22 recordings as arranger-conductor for a wide range of artists from Joni Mitchell to Joe Zawinul, 15 recordings of his original compositions, six Grammy awards and 25 Grammy nominations, his work is widely heard.

So why don’t you recognize his name? He follows in the legendary footsteps of other composer-arranger-conductors such as Quincy Jones, Oliver Nelson, Billy May and Claus Ogerman. Most of you have heard of Quincy Jones, but what about the others? All of these gentlemen were well-versed in both jazz and popular music worlds and expanded the musical palette of a jazz orchestra. This leads me to the topic of today’s column: What does the future jazz orchestra in the new millennium sound like?

 

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Reno Jazz Festival, 57 Years of Great Jazz

The fifty-seventh three-day Reno Jazz Festival (RJF) concluded April 27th and it thrills me to tell you twenty-six local school big bands, combos, and choirs participated and received accolades including outstanding Nevada High School ensemble and Middle School Choir...

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Where in the World Will Jazz Take You?

This month’s column introduces you to two Reno jazz artists, trumpeter Dickie Mills and saxophonist Chris Casaceli. Mills recently turned 90 and has been a Reno jazz stalwart since the 1950s and Casaceli is joining the professional music community after recently graduating from the University of Oregon. 

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RJO Honors A Trio Of Jazz Legends

The Reno Jazz Orchestra celebrates New Orleans' 300th anniversary with “New Orleans – A Night in the Big Easy” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday,  July 28, 2018, at Wingfield Park. This article features the music and musicians, but first a pop quiz...

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Let the Good Times Roll

On July 28th the Reno Jazz Orchestra (RJO) will present “New Orleans, A Night in the Big Easy” as a part of Artown. It seems a perfect match as Reno’s 150th anniversary coincides with New Orleans’ 300th anniversary!

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The Difference Between Jazz Big Band & Orchestra

I always thought that a big band was primarily a swing era dance band and as bandleaders like Duke Ellington and Count Basie explored new sounds they moved from the dance hall to the concert hall and the jazz orchestra was born.  It turns out jazz orchestras date back to the early jazz of the 1920s...

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FTLOJ - For the Love of Jazz

For the Love of Jazz (FTLOJ) is northern Nevada’s jazz go to organization to find and enjoy your favorite jazz.  Founded in 1974, FTLOJ was and always will be a labor of love for the members who support and organize jazz events.  ...  I had the pleasure of speaking with the current president Scot Marshall and one of its founders, Bill Filter.  Here is what I found out.

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Roots in the Blues

Great singers bring the blues to life and we are blessed with great vocal talent in the Reno-Tahoe area. It is a thrill that five of my favorite local singers are joining us for this upcoming concert. Some have performed with us several times and some are joining us for the first time so let me introduce them to you.

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