Pops ‘n Jazz

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WEST HARTFORD, CT, February 6, 2018 – The 60th annual production of Pops ’n Jazz, featuring Hall High School’s acclaimed jazz bands, dancers, actors, and singers, opens March 9, with additional performances March 10, 15, 16, and 17. Doors open at 7 p.m. and performances begin at 7:30 p.m.

Hall High proudly continues the musical extravaganza known as Pops ‘n Jazz which originated in 1958 by former band director Bill Stanley.  The Hall High Jazz Band is honored to debut a dedicated piece composed by one of their very own Pops ‘n Jazz alumnus, Pete McGuinness (trombone, singer) Hall class of 1981, in memory of Bill Stanley.  Pete McGuinness, a multiple Grammy nominee, is a respected writer in the jazz community and performs regularly with his own band in the New York City area.

Pops ’n Jazz 2018 features more than 100 student performers, the school’s Concert Jazz Band, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Jazz Dancers, Choraliers (jazz singers), I Giovani Solisti, and actors.  The program, which varies slightly each night, offers an array of American jazz classics from all eras, performed in big band and combo settings, highly choreographed jazz productions, and featured solo performances. The show is known for its eclectic blend of music, ranging from traditional and progressive jazz to pop-rock and Broadway.

In celebration of the 60th Anniversary, this year’s production reflects a multi-generational theme where 3 main characters symbolize a specific era of music ranging from big band swing to Motown to a postmodern twist on The Beatles.  The audience will be treated to musical and production numbers that echo selections from past Pops ‘n Jazz musical directors, featuring the harmonious sounds of Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Temptations, Afro Latin Jazz, Marvin Gaye and Count Basie.

Hall High is especially proud of the Pops ’n Jazz 2018’s guest performers’ roster.  Selected artists feature a Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra member, and four of Hall High’s very own Pops ‘n Jazz alumni.  Participation of guest performers is supported by the Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust.

Erica von Kleist (sax/flute), Hall class of 2000, kicks off the 2018 guest artist roster and performs on March 10.  Erica wrote Hall’s Pops ‘n Jazz signature number, Dance, Dance, Dance, while a student at Hall High.  She is a renowned flautist, saxophist, composer and educator and launched her career as a sideman through touring, recording and performing after earning her Bachelor’s degree in jazz at the Juilliard School.  She was a National and New England Grammy band participant and has been voted many times as a “Rising Star” and ‘Critic’s Pick” in Downbeat Magazine.  Erica has performed on Broadway and been a guest clinician at several schools including the Juilliard School, Stanford University, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Ensemble Programs.

On March 15, Pops ‘n Jazz will feature two alumni making their mark in the music industry.  Joseph Fierberg (singer), Hall class of 2009, and Kris Allen (alto sax), Hall class of 1994.  Joseph Fierberg was a member of the Jazz Dancers and Choraliers while attending Hall High.  Since graduating with a B.F.A. in Musical Theater from Syracuse University, he has worked at several theatres across the nation, including West Hartford’s very own Playhouse on Park.  Joseph was a part of ten West Hartford SAF productions, and has toured with the national and international companies of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and the national company of Elf: The Musical.

Kris Allen has performed worldwide, and forged a clear conceptual and aural identity as a composer, arranger, and bandleader.  He was drafted twice for the Grammy All American High School Jazz Band and named its most valuable player in 1994.  He studied with long time Hartford resident and renowned player, Jackie McLean, at the Hartt School of Music.  He has enjoyed a long career as a sought-after sideman, working in the groups of Illinois Jacquet, Gerald Wilson, Helen Sung, and the Mingus Dynasty and Big Band, among others.  Kris is the Lyell B. Clay Artist Artist-In-Residence in Jazz at Williams College.

Hall Pops ‘n Jazz 2018 is excited to perform with the talented Marcus Printup (trumpet) on March 16.  After being introduced to world renowned trumpeter Wynton Marsalis in 1991, Marcus was invited to join the prestigious Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra where he’s been a member since 1993.  He has had the honor of performing on multiple Grammy award winning albums there.  In addition, he has performed and recorded with Betty Carter, Diane Reeves, Marcus Roberts, Eric Reed, Cyrus Chestnut among many others, and has led multiple recordings on several major record jazz labels.  He is in demand as a facilitator/educator for clinics and masterclasses for Middle Schools, High Schools, and Universities.  He’s an educator at JALC’s Youth Ensemble Program and an adjunct faculty member at the New School in Manhattan.

Richie Barshay (drums), Hall class of 2001, performs on closing night on March 17.  Richie Barshay began drumming inside kitchen cabinets at an early age, and continues banging on things worldwide to this day. Noted for his work with the Herbie Hancock Quartet (2003-2007), he’s been dubbed “a major rhythm voice on the rise” by Downbeat magazine.  His resume includes performing with Hancock, Chick Corea’s electric band, Esperanza Spalding, Fred Hersch, Lee Konitz, Natalie Merchant, and Bobby McFerrin, among others. Since 2004 he has led outreach projects across 5 continents as an American Musical Envoy with the U.S. State Department. He can be heard on over 75 recordings including his latest release as leader, Sanctuary (2014), featuring Chick Corea.

There will be special performances by King Philip’s Middle School KP Singers (March 9), the King Philip Jazz Band (March 15), Bristow Middle School Jazz Band (March 16), and KP Sixth Dimension (March 17). On March 10, special recognition will be given to the Hall Junior Artists from Aiken and Norfeldt.  On March 17, special recognition will be given to the Hall Junior Artists from Bugbee, Morley, Smith and Whiting Lane elementary schools in West Hartford.

Pops ’n Jazz is co-produced by James Antonucci, Hall High’s Director of Bands and Jazz Bands, and Emmett Drake, Hall High’s Orchestra Director and Director of I Giovani Solisti. The student actors composed an original script under the Direction of Laura Hutchins.  The Jazz Singers are under the direction of Vocal Director Lorri Cetto and the Jazz Dancers are under the direction of Choreographer Tessa Grunwald. Greg Scheiber is the Technical Director.  Additional assistance is provided by Hall High parents, teachers, and staff.

Online ticketing system with ASSIGNED SEATING.  Ticket Website:  http://hallhighjazz.tix.com.  Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for students and are on sale now online!  Beginning February 26, tickets can also be purchased in person at the Hall High box office.  Box office hours will be Monday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.  Like us on Facebook at pops ’n jazz.  Follow us on Twitter @pops_jazz or on Instagram @popsnjazz.  For more information, please call the Pops ‘n Jazz hotline at (860) 929-5151, or visit www.hallhighjazz.com.