Moonlight Jazz celebrates 40 years

• Hometown big band Moonlight Jazz Orchestra celebrates with Nov. 8 event at Giovanni’s

Staff Report

Moonlight Jazz Orchestra (MJO), Rockford’s hometown big band, will celebrate 40 years of entertainment at a celebratory gala Saturday, Nov. 8, at Giovanni’s Grand Ballroom, 610 N. Bell School Road.

Fans and friends are invited to enjoy an unforgettable night featuring cocktails, dinner and, of course, dancing to the swingin’ sounds of Moonlight Jazz.

Kent Ecklor, MJO director, noted: “We are proud to celebrate 40 years of performing for audiences throughout the stateline community. The band wants to share this milestone with those who have supported us through the years, and what better way than a party at Giovanni’s!”

Joe Castrogiovanni, owner of Giovanni’s, added: “MJO has performed here for hundreds of events and are a real local favorite. We have a wonderful event with some special surprises planned. We hope you’ll join us for a fantastic evening.”

Tickets are on sale and available by calling (815) 398-6411 or stopping in at Giovanni’s during business hours. Prices range from VIP $75; dinner/dance $50; and show only $35. Visit or for event details.

A brief history of MJO

Back in 1974, a group of Rockford Jefferson High School musicians gathered in a garage and started making music together. The group grew into an 18-piece big band and, as members had “day jobs” in addition to playing with the band on nights and weekends, they named the ensemble “Moonlight Jazz Orchestra.” For the next 40 years, Moonlight Jazz (MJO) has entertained audiences throughout the stateline area. The band has performed at hundreds of venues and events, including private wedding, anniversary and company parties; community fund-raisers and balls; and public festivals and concerts. Playing a variety of music from big-band swing to rock ’n’ roll, MJO is the life of the party and a truly classic dance band, combining professional performance with a dash of comic relief. Not many bands come even close to staying together for 40 years.

From the Nov. 5-11, 2014, issue

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