By Joseph Pratt
This weekend, Tracy Park will be blown away with the musical talents of the Southern Ohio Jazz Society, as they present the 28th Annual Big Band Reunion Concert. The concerts range in attendance and have peaked in the upper hundreds, completely filling Tracy Park.
This year’s concert will feature the music of the jazz era, which Director and Co-Founder Gary Billups says will really showcase the talent.
“The music of the jazz era was complicated. It isn’t like today, when someone might learn to sing, then learn four chords, and then move on make tons of money off what they know,” Billups explained. “The music is complicated, but I know it will come together nicely and beautifully.”
Billups explained that, while the music might be challenging, the band is composed of such skilled master musicians that they don’t even rehearse for shows.
“These people are so good they can just look over the music, say ‘okay,’ and then move on to play it,” Billups said.
The band features Wes Orr, of the Columbus Jazz Orcestra, as lead trumpet; Ryan Ervin, former musician director for Royal Caribbean Cruises, as second trumpet; Jason Petrie, player for City Heat Band, as third trumpet; Ashley Tyree, music director of Mount Sterling, as fourth trumpet; Terry Thompson, director of the Portsmouth Wind Symphony, as fifth trumpet; Nelson Foucht, of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, as first trombone; Gale Dalton, as second trombone; Bob McCoy, as third trombone; Dave Colburn, of Aladdin Band, as fourth trombone; Burdette Green, of Columbus Jazz Orchestra, as first alto saxophone; Ginger Tyree, music director of Mount Sterling, as second alto saxophone; Gary Billips, director of the band, as first tenor saxophone; Isaac Stephens, as second tenor saxophone; Mike Kelly, on baritone; Mike Harbour, on bass; Dave Holt, former officer with Musicians Union, on drums; Tom Stephens, music director of Raceland High School, on piano; vocalist Ann Stephens.
“My wife and I added up the talent of the musicians and the band is currently composed of over 700 years of professional music experience, if you put everyone together,” Billups said. “I am really proud of this group. We have some of the best musicians, as far as I’m concerned, in the United States.We are excited to bring some really great jazz to the Portsmouth area.”
The Southern Ohio Jazz Society will will perform in Tracy Park on Sunday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. The show will be moved to the American Legion Post 23, if inclement weather should be a thing.
Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.