RACINE — The first installment of the latest Jean’s Jazz Series event kicks off next week at the Racine Theatre Guild.
Beginning the four-concert series for 2023 is “Septetasaurus,” set for Saturday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m. at the Racine Theatre Guild, 2519 Northwestern Ave.
Jean’s Jazz was created by Joe Mooney in 2001 to honor his wife, Jean, who died from ovarian cancer. Since then, more than 22,000 people have attended the concerts and raised more than $125,000 to benefit the Racine Theatre Guild.
Jean’s love of RTG and jazz-inspired the series to bring together jazz fans, singers and musicians from throughout the region, according to a press release.
“Jazz, by its definition, is all about taking risks and trying something new,” Mooney said. “For more than 20 years, that’s what we’ve done with Jean’s Jazz, bringing different forms of jazz music to RTG’s stage. I am thrilled to be featuring musicians that call Racine and Wisconsin home and to put on a show you won’t soon forget.”
Mooney spoke to the Racine County Eye for a deeper look at the series, its growth and his wife’s love for the RTG and jazz. Click here to read the Jean’s Jazz feature story.
Septetasaurus came about as a vehicle to “road test” songs composed by Doug Clum, who had been asked to write an arrangement for a teacher colleague’s jazz septet. That effort led to more than 30 compositions in a wide variety of styles, including swing, Latin, waltz and rock.
The first show in the 2023 series features local artists Steve Jacob, Tom Meredith and Paul Frederickson, along with Mike Gudbaur, who helped Clum build each song in unique and collaborative ways. During the Jan. 7 show, a couple of surprise guest stars will add their talents to the ensemble as well.
“Doug has put together a group with some of the finest local musicians and has arranged all the music,” Mooney said. “He named his group Septetasaurus because it is comprised of a bunch of old dinosaurs (in his words).”
Here’s a look at the rest of the Jean’s Jazz Series for 2023:
The Dave Braun Trio
A group that is no stranger to the Jean’s Jazz stage, the Dave Braun Trio will perform Saturday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. The trio follows the traditional jazz style of Barney Kessel. With Dave as lead on guitar, his wife, Paula, on fretless bass, and their son, Pete, on drums, they think, play and breathe together. Their emotionally-charged music emulates the great piano trios of Oscar Peterson and Nat King Cole.
Combining single-line playing with full-block chord riff, Dave ensures their jazz music is an expression that comes from the heart. The art of playing it is simply the ability to convey feelings through the songs with the uninhibited openness of one’s heart.
“Dave Braun has studied under some of the biggest names in guitar, like Joe Pass, Barney Kessel and James Yoghourtjian,” Mooney said. “He heads a trio with his wife and son and will bring Oscar Peterson and Nat King Kole to life on our stage.”
The Tony Castenada Latin Jazz Band
Wisconsin’s premier Latin Jazz Band for more than 20 years will hit the RTG stage Saturday, March 23, at 7 p.m. Tony Castaneda and his band have been honoring and keeping alive the music of the Gold Age of Latin Jazz – and have more than 15 “Isthmus Madison” awards for favorite jazz band, along with features in countless festivals, concerts, and Wisconsin PBS’s 30-minute music hour.
Having opened for legendary Latin jazz artists such as Poncho Sanchez, John Santos, Giovanni Hidalgo and John Benitez, the band brings classic gems to life with new vigor for new audiences. The Afro-Cuban Jazz arrangements of that period are timeless and pair with the group’s original tunes as well.
“Tony is passionate about his heritage and it shows in his music,” Mooney said.
The final installment in the 2023 series will hit the stage Saturday, April 8, at 7 p.m.
Rico Vibes serves up positive, high-energy Latin Jazz sounds, blending funk, Latin and Jazz rhythms with original tunes and modern arrangements of Jazz standards and Latin Jazz classics. Rico Vibes features five musicians deeply rooted in the Latin music scene to make audiences ready to groove to the band’s unique rhythmic and smooth sound.
Led by Tommy Mattioli, a vibraphone virtuoso, he guides the group through their varied arrangements, rhythms and performances. These jazz combos and original compositions signify an evolution and honest desire to reach audience members and jazz lovers alike.
“While our final group is also billed as a Latin jazz band, I put them back-to-back because, again, I want to show the variations on a theme,” Mooney said. “Led by Tommy Mattioli, who is also Tony Castaneda’s vibe player, Rico Vibes is a very high-energy Latin group led by the vibes. Very different, but still, very Latin.”
Season tickets for all four Jean’s Jazz performances are available through Jan. 7, at $60 for adults, $52 for seniors (62 and older) and $15 for students (21 and younger). Individual tickets also are available at $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and $5 for students.
To purchase tickets, call 262-633-4218, visit www.racinetheatre.org or stop by the Box Office weekdays from noon to 6 p.m.
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