Second Stage Amherst will become a toe-tapping hotbed for musical enthusiasts with the launch of the Amherst Glebe Arts Response, Inc.’s “AGAR Amherst Java and Jazz Series,” which kicks off Saturday.
Nine jazz concerts are slated for Friday and Saturday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., through May 2020 at Second Stage, 194 Second St. in Amherst. Admission is $10 per person and includes a free cup of coffee or soda from a new coffee shop and bookstore set to open soon at the arts venue center, according to a news release from AGAR.
Ernest Deane, who plays trumpet for the Lynchburg jazz band, Quintana, is curator for the series. Deane founded two jazz bands, The Knights of Jazz and The Apollos, while going to high school in Lynchburg in the 1950s. In addition to working with jazz bands in Virginia and North Carolina, he served as assistant in special education for 15 years at Linkhorne Middle School, where he worked with students of band, wind and brass.
A jazz fan since age 8, Deane recalls listening to early recordings of Charlie Parker, Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins, among others.
“My earliest trumpet influence, if you can believe it, was Bobby Hackett, the trumpet player for Jackie Gleason’s band,” Deane said in the release. “And, of course, Louis Armstrong. I also loved the big bands Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey… and the singers, like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Mel Torme.”
AGAR board members Melodie Fletcher and Lynn Kable are working with Deane to establish the new series. Ed Mikenas, a local musician, introduced Deane to AGAR last year. Kable said Deane has been a joy to work with.
“He knows the local jazz artists well, and he believes, as we do, that we need to establish jazz series in various communities to keep the art form going for younger generations and new listeners to enjoy,” Kable said.
The first jazz concert in the series is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday is by Flat Five Jazz, who call their style, “A Modern Interpretation of Old Ideas.” The first set will be pieces originally recorded by Miles Davis on “King of Blue,” an iconic album marking its 60th anniversary this year.
Josh Barling, trumpet player and leader of Flat Five Jazz, said the band will do its own solos but everything else is going to be straight off the record.
“We felt it was important to do it this way to show respect and to reintroduce one of the greatest jazz records of all time back to the community. Miles Davis changed the way jazz music was looked at and played with this record. If you’re a musician, you have probably spent hundreds of hours listening and copying this record, or you will be soon.”
Barling said Davis inspired to pursue playing jazz “beyond being just a casual player.”
“His tone and the way he approached playing was so unique,” Barling said. “He said more in one note than people say in entire solos.”
The second set of the Flat Five Jazz event will explore how jazz evolved. The band will play music of Freddie Hubbard, Dave Douglas and others.
Also, AGAR is ringing in the first concert of its 2019-2020 Chamber Music Series with a jazz event “The Blue Note Years” to be performed by the Chris Magee Quartet. Ticket information about the AGAR Chamber Music series is available at LynchburgTickets.com.