<i>Autumn Concert Series Continues with Visit from Leona Mitchell</i>
By CHUCK CISSEL
NEW YEAR’S ENTERTAINMENT: Those ringing in the New Year will enjoy Grady Nichols and Toni Estes at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.
GTR Newspapers photo
The chill of autumn is slowly creeping into Green Country. I have begun to pull my sweaters from the cedar chest and I’ve been looking around for wood for the fireplace. Indeed, autumn is my favorite time of the year. Once the leaves begin their annual ‘colorfest,’ it seems that we ready ourselves for the familiar cries of “trick or treat.”
It’s a fun time of the year for the kids; they get the opportunity to eat all the candy their little hearts desire and of course, dress up in costumes from Sponge Bob and Superman to ballerinas and ghosts. For the big kids, autumn is the excitement of Oklahoma football…right? Right!
The autumn season is also settling over the beautiful art deco architecture of the Jazz Depot, located at 111 East First Street (First Street & Cincinnati Avenue) in downtown Tulsa. The way the Depot sits atop the Boston Pedestrian Bridge at the Center of the Universe, it gives the appearance of a haunted mansion—just perfect for Halloween parties and special events. However, what will be most haunting at the Jazz Depot is the non-stop music for the fall season. Concerts from September through Dec. 31, when we conclude 2007 with a huge New Year’s Eve bash starring crowd favorites: the famous saxophonist Grady Nichols and the soulful vocalist, Toni Estes. Mark your calendars now for this surefire, slam jam session with these two stellar top-drawer talents. According to Grady Nichols, “We plan to party like it’s 1999…when people really use to party like crazy.” Let’s do it! Celebrate New Year’s Eve at the Jazz Depot.
Now let me back up a minute. October is a fantastic month and will also produce some very hip and “spirited” concerts. What’s cool though is the “Dancing with the Stars” television show has proven that more people are now once more getting into dance again. This is a good thing! Swing dance classes are being taught at the Jazz Depot every Tuesday 6-9 p.m. Two of Tulsa’s finest dancers, Jamin Jackson and Gina Bradford, are the instructors and the would-be dancers just keep coming.
October also proves to be the month for one of Tulsa’s top talents to take the stage at the Jazz Depot and I’m speaking of Ms. Janet Rutland with her “Screen Gems” show. Musical jewels from some of your favorite Hollywood film musicals including “Singin in the Rain,” “The Way We Were,” “The Godfather” and other dazzling gems will be yours to enjoy with her beautiful voice. Ms. Rutland kicks off her show at 5 p.m. and she has an amazing line-up of musicians too – music director and guitarist, Randy Wymer, Dave Breshears on drums, Brad Morris on bass and Jeff Shadley on trumpet and vocals. The date for Ms. Rutland’s special showstopper is Sunday afternoon, Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. at the Jazz Depot. Call the Jazz Depot at (918) 596-1001 for tickets or information. You can also visit the Jazz Depot online and purchase tickets at www.okjazz.org.
The fall season would not be complete without the University of Tulsa’s Big Jazz Band One. This phenomenal group of talented musicians will swing into the Jazz Depot on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 5 p.m. to “knock our socks off.” Special guest musician is saxophonist Tim Ries, who just finished his second world tour with the Rolling Stones….that’s right, with Mick Jagger and the cats, he has played with top of the line superstars, including Stevie Wonder, Norah Jones and Maria Schneider, and he played on the CD with Joe Henderson’s Big Band, which won a Grammy Award. The TU Jazz Band “ain’t” too shabby either. Cool, hot music served up from the talented youthful performers of the University of Tulsa, it just doesn’t get any better than this. The TU Jazz Band is under the musical direction of jazz stalwart Vernon Howard.
Oh, one other hint, or tip, if you will. The Mike Bennett Band featuring the gorgeous and talented Sharon Moguin will grace our stage with the swinging sounds of Kansas City (one of the great jazz towns in this country). Trumpeter Mike Bennett and his band of merry music makers step to the stage on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 5 p.m. and are planning a show for the history books. On the bandstand with Mike is Ted Moses on piano, Bill Crosby on bass and Tony Yohe on drums.
Finally, the international opera star Ms. Leona Mitchell is about to come on stage at the Jazz Depot and give a concert. I don’t know about you, but I saw her perform in New York City in Carmen in 1978 and she was so brilliant it left me in a daze. From Enid, Okla., Ms. Mitchell is one of the great lyric-spinto sopranos of our time and to think she performed on the stage of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame this October 2007! WOW! She is also an inductee of the Jazz Hall of Fame this summer. She is the cultural ambassador for the state of Oklahoma and has won numerous honors and awards from Oklahoma and around the world. Oklahoma produces amazing talent, from the football fields, basketball courts, opera stages, dance stages and the jazz stages, remember that Oklahoma has got it going on and the talent keeps coming. Please support it! Enjoy the fall season and enjoy your family and friends. Remember the place to go is the Jazz Depot.