The Toledo Jazz Orchestra is back.
After a couple of years of financial uncertainty and a split from the Toledo Jazz Society (now the Art Tatum Jazz Heritage Society), the 18-member band is gearing up for a concert Saturday night in the Valentine Theatre.
The layoff was tough for the musicians, due to the uncertainty of the group's status and the dearth of replacement gigs.
“It was a time of confusion for sure, because, let's face it, in 2010 in Toledo, Ohio, there aren't a lot of opportunities to play in a big band, especially one that plays concert music,” said Scott Potter, a member of the orchestra for 20 years.
“For a lot of us that's our only musical outlet.”
The jazz society canceled the orchestra's season in 2008, citing poor attendance at the group's concerts. Potter said the orchestra and the society split, with TJO reforming itself as an independent nonprofit organization.
The orchestra is starting slowly with just two scheduled concerts as it works to build a following and attract an audience that's drawn to its traditional big band sound.
“We're really excited to get back in front of the people and play the music, and we're looking forward to hopefully reaching some new audiences,” Potter said.
Saturday night's show is called Nat & Natalie and will feature the orchestra performing songs popularized by Nat King Cole and his daughter. The singers will be Nate Gurley and DaZee Love, and tickets range from $15 to $25 at the theater's box office at 400 North Superior St. Showtime is 8 p.m.
The orchestra also will perform a tribute to the late Toledo jazz musician Jimmy Cook on April 16, and Potter said the group is looking for opportunities to work with various local schools. The group also is trying to find a local club that could host
“Thursday night restaurant/bistro type” concerts.
Potter said there are no hard feelings toward the Jazz Society over the split.
“You get over it. Our incentive was just to play and that's what we're going to do,” he said.
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