The West Virginia Jazz Society (WVJS) will celebrate its tenth anniversary as a nonprofit arts advocacy group with four hours of live music in a “Concert of the Decade” on Sunday, April 7, in Bridgeport, West Virginia.
Over two dozen jazz and bluegrass artists will gather in the Bridgeport Conference Center for a three-act program beginning at 6pm with the JazzGrass Express, followed by Decon Blues with special guest, Karen Greene, the Clarksburg-native and Atlanta-based saxophonist and Grammy winner.
A grand finale set – the Jazz Society Jam – will feature multiple ensembles with many of the artists who have played for the WVJS over the past ten years.
Prominent among the musicians committed to perform are Sharon Clark, an internationally acclaimed vocalist who will be flying in from Belgium for the evening, and Dr. Monika Herzig, popular jazz pianist, recording artist, educator, and a recognized leader in American jazz. Herzig will drive down from the Pittsburgh airport to spend the night before her flight the next day to New York City and Europe for an extended tour.
Marshall Keys, a top alto saxophonist from Washington, DC, will join Master of Ceremonies Reggie Watkins, a trom-bonist and arranger for the legendary Maynard Ferguson (“Theme From Rocky”), and Vince Lewis, guitarist at Greenbrier Resort, in different ensembles and formats throughout the jam session.
Music Director for the Concert of the Decade is Seth Maynard, guitarist/vocalist and owner of Seth 1 Productions in Elkins.
“We are already hearing from the artists,” said Maynard. “It seems some of them are self-organizing, planning set lists, and generally getting excited about this opportunity to be together. They are in a celebratory mood and excited to par-ticipate in something special and unique.”
JazzGrass Express is a “successful experiment in genre bending and blending” according to band organizer, Mor-gantown-based bassist, Greg Thurman.
“The band will perform arrangements that feature the improvisational spirit present in both jazz and bluegrass,” said Thurman, who will be joined by Ty Jaquay from the Hillbilly Gypsies, on fiddle and vocals, Dan Baker and Andrew Tuck on guitars, Ryan Krofchek on mandolin and vocals, and Josh Dunleavy on sax.
Decon Blues is a sextet of veteran musicians from throughout the central and north central West Virginia region organized by drummer, Bob Workman, and saxophonist, Greene, to play tribute to contemporary jazz greats including Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, David Sanborn and Eric Marienthal.
Joining Workman and Greene in Decon Blues for the April 7 show are Davin Seamon on keyboards, Phil Wyatt on sax and vocals, percussionist, Terry Hotsinpiller, and Lars Swanson on bass. Seth Maynard adds vocals and guitar.
The full retinue for the Jazz Society Jam finale is not complete, but in addition to the artists listed above, the ensemble format will include drummers Kyle Andrews, Kip Williams and Mark Cappellini; saxophonists Jared Sims, Rich Norwood, and Rob Masten; trumpeters Adam Loudin and Neil King; bassist, Chris McGraw, and Rick Lillard on trombone, coronet and vocals.
Andrews directs West Virginia Wesleyan’s jazz program. King is director of jazz programs at Fairmont State, and Sims is jazz program director for West Virginia University.
The Bridgeport Conference Center is preparing an upscale buffet for the event, with details to be released when tickets go on sale to the general public on March 3.
For advanced purchase of Gold Circle seating in the first two rows of tables and preferred reserved seating contact the West Virginia Jazz Society by email to: WVJazzSociety@aol.com or phone and text to 304-517-9813.
The Barbara Highland Fund for the Arts provides essential funding for West Virginia Jazz Society events.