Final Show Of Jazz Music Salon Series Set For Friday

Area residents will gather for one last time this season to celebrate a successful run of jazz shows hosted by John Cross in downtown Jamestown.

The final show of the season in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Jamestown’s Jazz Music Salon series is set for Friday from 7-9 p.m.

The show, entitled “Jazz Standards with Jeff Gibbens and Friends,” is set to feature Gibbens on trumpet, Mark Alpaugh on keys, Cross on reeds and Ray Domanski on drums. The group will perform tunes such as “All of Me,” Almost Like Being In Love,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “Four,” “Night And Day,” “Satin Doll,” “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Blue Bossa,” “Corcovado,” “Green Dolphin Street,” “Song For My Father” and “My Romance.”

According to Cross, exposure to jazz music in small communities is very limited, which is where the idea for the jazz parlor series stemmed from, he said.

“The idea was to take local artists and feature them so that people in our community can have a chance to hear jazz and not have to go somewhere else to get it,” Cross said. “Plus, one thing that’s unique about this series is that we have an intimate audience, who is also educated. Jazz creates a vibe between the audience and the performers, and the way the audience reacts lifts the band to a new height. That interaction with a small audience and small group of musicians has a really neat energy – for me that’s very exciting.”

Each show of the series features a number of local and regional jazz musicians. Gibbens, who has been a professional musician since 1980, will serve as the special guest for Friday’s performance. Gibbens and Cross both grew up in Erie, Pa., and they had a working relationship in high school even though they didn’t go to the same one.

“We were hired to play different musicals, and occasionally our paths would cross,” Cross said. “Then for a while our paths didn’t cross until the past 10 years when he and I both started playing with various big bands. I’d play for his, and he’d come play for mine. Then all of the sudden we started doing performances together, including everything from small jazz combos to large big band orchestras. It’s been a really neat thing that we’ve been reacquainted through this jazz medium.”

One of the biggest performances Cross and Gibbens worked on together was when Bob Newhart performed at the Reg Lenna Civic Center during the Lucy Festival in 1996. Gibbens has also been involved with Big Time Productions at the Spire Theater as well as Chautauqua Lake Voices.

Cross has a strong commitment to providing an outlet for musicians who are pursuing jazz, he said, which is why a group of jazz musicians from Jamestown Community College will open the show from 7-7:30 p.m.

“This gives them an outlet to perform our only indigenous music,” Cross said. “Highlighting up-and-coming jazz musicians gives them a chance to be heard and have an audience.”

Although Friday’s show is the last of the season, Cross has high hopes that the series will continue next spring.

“We don’t collect any money from the people who come, rather we invite them to donate if they’d like to hear more, and it seems like we always have more than enough for the next series,” Cross said. “The people who come to the event are so generous with their support – I’m very encouraged by that.”

Susan Spillane, administrator for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, hopes that the jazz series will continue next year, as it has been very popular with area residents, she said.

“We found a demand in the area – we’ve had a good turnout,” Spillane said. “John Cross has been very helpful in gathering musicians together for the jazz salons – he’s got the knowledge and connections. We’ve had really great feedback from the audience, and we’re drawing more and more people out.”

The series has in part been made possible by grants from the Chautauqua County Arts Council. The show is free and open to the public, but a free will donation will be accepted to help continue the series. The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Jamestown is located at 1255 Prendergast Ave. in Jamestown. For more information, call 488-1902 or visit www.theuucj.com.