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Published: 10/18/2002

Cole fills the stage with sound

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Jazz saxophonist Richie Cole has a secret - and he's keeping it that way.

“I found a way where I can trick the ear into hearing a bigger sound than is actually there,” said Cole.

He won't have to use his tricks tomorrow night, when he will be the featured guest artist with the 18-piece Toledo Jazz Orchestra. Billed as “Saxomania,” the show will kick off the TJO's five-concert 2002-03 season.

Cole, 54, has always been a big-band kind of guy, but today's musical trends and economics have made it almost impossible to keep 18 musicians together for any length of time.

So the saxophonist began tinkering with musical arrangements and came up with what he described as an innovative way to blend chords, making a four-piece horn section sound like a big band.

“I've been living on my yacht in Key Largo, Fla., the last six years working on this new concept,” Cole said in a phone interview this week. “I've got a trumpet, trombone, alto sax, and tenor sax, with a rhythm section, and it sounds like an 18-piece band.

“It's my secret and no one will ever know,” he said with a laugh.

A native of Trenton, N.J., Cole grew up listening to such jazz greats as Charlie Parker and Phil Woods because his father owned a jazz nightclub. He began playing saxophone at age 10, attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music for two years, then left for a job with the Buddy Rich Orchestra.

“I was with Buddy for 21/2 years, and then I was with Lionel Hampton after that,” Cole said, “and then I was with Doc Severinsen's group in New York City before they left for California. I always liked the sound of the big band.”

Dave Melle, TJO director, said the big band has continued to “step it up a few notches” as it enters its 23rd season. The Franciscan Center, where the concerts have been held since 1999, offers the right blend of lights, sound, stage, and comfortable seating, Melle said.

The rest of the TJO's Harold Jaffe Concert Series:

  • “All That Jazz,” Nov. 23, with guest vocalist Sunny Wilkinson;

  • “A Latin Extravaganza,” Jan. 25;

  • “World War II Musical Memories,” March 8, with guest trumpeter Johnny Trudell;

  • “Artistry in Rhythm,” April 19, a tribute to Stan Kenton.

    All shows are at 8 p.m. at the Franciscan Center, 6832 Convent Blvd., Sylvania. Tickets are $24 per person; $10 for students; season tickets are $100. Information: 419-824-3999.



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