Mark Colby and 40 more! Jazz Society celebrates 100th concert April 10

You scuffle, sometimes more hurriedly than you should. The goal, with positive intent: to bond together in concert the finest musicians you’re able to reach. You wade through the unexpected challenges of cancellations, substitutions, occasional egoisms. You alternate between trios, quartets, Dixieland stompers and big bands. You silently, but knowingly, ask them to share their innermost musical selves with your audience from their roost on stage.

You look to the skies for better weather, to your fan base for attendance loyalty, meshed with the hope of experiencing seemingly perfectly laid plans. You occasionally hang out backstage, fingers mentally crossed while yearning for the need for additional seating. You hoot with joy when guest artists make an event more memorable than was expected.

One day you suddenly realize you’re repeating the whole process for the 100th time!

The Rockford Jazz Society’s April 10 session may long be reflected upon as our 100th program before a live audience. Mark Colby will put it on the map. Ken Stein and his Rock Valley College Jazz Ensemble, plus the Rock Valley Community Ensemble—40 musicians strong—will musically applaud international jazz star Colby with their Stein-designed series of arrangements, lauded repeatedly by Jazz Society audiences past, affirmed by scores of statewide jazz aficionados who attend in droves to marvel over the musical magic of the man: Saxophonist Mark Colby.

Mark’s performance credits run long and deep. Speak of Frank Sinatra, Gerry Mulligan and Maynard Ferguson, and know that Mark has shared multiple stages with the names, sharing the fame. Add dozens more, being sure to include his recorded efforts with Maynard, Frank Caruso, Bob James, Ramsey Lewis, Rob Parton’s Jazz Tech Big Band and the Mighty Blue Kings.

When Jazzman Dave Remington tagged the Rockford area as “a Mecca of Jazz,” the Rockford Jazz Society pointed a finger of thanks at Ken Stein. As music faculty at Rock Valley College, saxophonist at the mike, flute soloist supreme, or conductor before the musical masses, no one man has done more to promote, polish and present live jazz to the area than Ken, the Stein-way! His orchestras have appeared in concert with Mark Colby, Vince Maggio, Clark Terry, Frank Mantooth, Rob Parton and several others.

A special tribute spotlight will shine on the Society’s 100th event, beamed at guest artist John Porrazzo, the Stringed Victor of Jazz in this area for 60 years. He still plays his bejeebers off at the ripe young age of 90, and is “still too handsome for his height!”

The Rockford Jazz Society’s 100th Concert celebration will be from 3 to 6 p.m., Sunday, April 10, at the Clock Tower Resort, 7801 E. State St.

Matt P. Spinello is president of the Rockford Jazz Society.

From the April 6-12, 2005, issue

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