Jacksonville: Big City, Big Band, Big Plans
2000-2007: Besides taking part in the state's Touring Program, the SJRCB presented a Tribute to Benny Goodman at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, while more concerts were held in San Marco, Jacksonville Beach and other parts of Jacksonville. The Youth Band expanded to include a high school Jazz ensemble and middle school and high school concert bands. In December 2003, the St Johns River City Band was chosen to present the closing concert at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. In 2006, the SJRCB hosted the World's Largest Concert, an annual program of the National Association for Music Education. The concert is a world-wide music sing-along held in one day and coordinated by music educators. The band also performed with singer Diane Schuur at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.
2008-2009: The SJRCB was again chosen to take part in the State Touring Program and opened the concert series at North Florida Community College, performing also at the Glenridge and Parker Ranch in Sarasota, at Advent Christian Village and at Santa Fe College's annual Boots 'n BBQ, and was featured with guitarist / singer John Pizzarelli at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. The band continues to support the mayor's office and the city's Office of Special Events, performing for more than 40,000 children and adults each year. Through a partnership with the Jacksonville Public Library, an annual holiday concert is presented for schoolchildren and the general public. The band recorded a DVD, Busy Betsy and the Big Big Band, a children's story written by Frances Key, and donated copies to preschools and elementary schools in Duval County. To celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary, the SJRCB released its second CD, Silver Threads (see review in Big Band Caravan at AAJ), and was invited by the Daytona Beach International Festival to perform at its opening night dinner and gala for the London Symphony Orchestra.
Besides the River City Big Band, the SJRC ensembles now include River City Satin Swing: The Little Big Band (a nine-piece version of the larger band); River City Back Beat (a smaller ensemble providing light jazz and jazz education for schools); River City Brass Pack (a quartet or quintet that performs a variety of music from classical to pops for parties, weddings, schools and other events); River City 126 (one to six musicians who play at various events); St. Johns River City Brass Band (performing marches, patriotic themes and American folk songs); River City Fusion (three or four horns and rhythm blending jazz and rock); and River City Dixie Jazz (performing music reminiscent of New Orleans and Bourbon Street). All that in only twenty-five years! The SJRCB biography is a textbook example of what can (and should) be done to help resuscitate big-band Jazz. If you'd like more information about the band and / or its programs, e-mail diantha@RiverCityBand.com or go to the web site, www.RiverCityBand.com
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