MOUNT VERNON, Ohio – The irresistible sounds of big-band jazz come to downtown Mount Vernon on Saturday, November 5, as the Woodward Opera House welcomes the Knox Community Jazz Orchestra for an evening of swinging, soothing, sizzling – and highly danceable – music.
The concert begins at 7:00 p.m., with tickets costing $10. The doors will open at 6:00 for a refreshment hour. Complimentary coffee and desserts will be available, along with a cash bar.
The 20-member jazz orchestra, which has won an enthusiastic following since it started five years ago, is calling the performance Jumpin’ at the Woodward. “That’s a local twist on the name of one of Count Basie’s signature tunes, ‘Jumpin’ at the Woodside,’” explained band leader Ted Buehrer. “But we also like the name because jumpin’ implies dancing, and we definitely want people to feel free to dance.”
In fact, several members of the Kenyon College Ballroom Dance Club will offer brief dance lessons during the evening for anyone who’s interested. “No pressure!” said Buehrer. “The Swing Era classics that anchor our repertoire offer plenty of pleasure for just the ear – unforgettable melodies, rich harmonies, and catchy, inventive rhythms. But the Woodward has a great dance floor, and this music from the very beginning was wildly popular as dance music.”
The musicians, many of them music educators from Knox County and nearby – and many of them already known to local audiences – will play both familiar and fresh arrangements of big-band standards. The band’s vocalist, Amanda Mayville, will sing a samba and swing arrangement of George Gershwin’s “A Foggy Day,” among other numbers. Tenor saxophonist Eric Snyder will solo on the Hoagy Carmichael tune “Rockin’ Chair,” along with Buehrer, who plays trumpet. Other songs on the program include “String of Pearls,” “Tuxedo Junction,” “April in Paris,” “Take the A Train,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” and of course “Jumpin’ at the Woodside.”
“We’re really excited about this collaboration with the Woodward Opera House,” said Buehrer, a Kenyon music professor and jazz performer who founded the orchestra in 2017. “We’re hoping that we can create a long-term partnership with the Woodward, with more ambitious programs building on the community focus that has always been at the heart of our mission.” That community focus, he noted, has included regular appearances in the summer concert series at Ariel Foundation Park, as well as performances in the Mount Vernon Music & Arts Festival and at the Tops ’n’ Pops concerts of the Mount Vernon City Schools. The jazz orchestra has also valued its partnership with MTVarts, which provides rehearsal space.
“Nothing would please me more than to see the Knox Community Jazz Orchestra make the Woodward its home venue,” said Dena Hess-McKinstry, house manager of the Woodward Opera House. “The Woodward is committed to supporting the rich cultural life of the community, and this group, devoted to the great tradition of American big-band music, fills an important niche. Audiences who hear them perform always go home humming and happy. What’s better than that?”
In the past, the jazz orchestra has often performed for free. Proceeds from ticket sales “will help us buy new music, upgrade our equipment, bring in featured soloists for future concerts, and maybe even commission some new works,” said Buehrer. “We want to build a secure and sustainable future, so that we can bring this music to local audiences for years to come.”
For more information about the November 5 performance, contact Dena Hess-McKinstry at 740-263-6737 or purchase tickets online.