Pearl City Jazz To Play Holiday Concert At Spire Theater Saturday

Pearl City Jazz

Jazz means different things to different people, but to Ralph Rasmussen, it means elation.

Rasmusson, better known as “Razz,” was trying to come up with a name and he and a few other members were throwing around words, and as an homage to Jamestown, Pear City Jazz was born.

While different genres of jazz are played, big band swing music is what drives the band. With drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, five trombones, five saxophones, four trumpets, and two vocalists, it truly is a big band experience.

With two vocalists in the band, “Razz” said, there is a different dimension.

“It’s something you haven’t seen since the 1940s or 1950s,” he said.

Big Band has not lost a beat, no pun intended, since its inception. When students choose to study music in college, there is most likely a jazz component included. And it’s not because it’s just another course to fill out a requirement, but rather a course or several courses designed to give students a sturdy background in theory and performance. Even though there are not many new Big Band songs being written, Big Band music keeps progressing because it’s instantly recognizable, and easy to remember. The Big Band standards stand the test of time.

“It has this life in it,” he said of Big Band Music. “These guys are (playing) live and enjoying sharing it (the music). Swing dance was often coupled with Big Band music, he said.

“When it is going well, it’s an uplifting experience,” Razz” said of his love of jazz music. It lifts you up and gives you a feeling like you have the freedom to fly. It lifts your spirits and it’s a great feeling. I love the exhilaration of it.” And a true jazz band, he said, will play the songs different at every performance because “That is jazz. I love the improv part of it. It’s such fun.”

Hearing Benny Goodman play is what drew “Razz” into music. “I had a two-sided record by Benny Goodman that I used to listen to him play ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ and thought that I always wanted to that.

Aside from playing saxophone in the band, “Razz” is just a wealth of information when it comes to jazz history. And listening to him speak, you see the smile on his face, and you can tell he enjoys listening as well as researching current and older trends in music.

According to “Razz” the band is structured like the Count Basie Band, the Glenn Miller Band, and many others of this style.

The Band

Saxophone — Rasmusson, Curtis Barnes, Kenny Mark, Bill

Tucker, and Kyle Jordan.

Trumpet — Todd Jacobson, Bob Lewis, Peter Weinrich, and Brandon Carouso.

Trombones– Paul Near, Todd Mclean, Alex Osborne, John Zawadski, and Chris Wakefield

Piano — Carol Svensen

Bass — Vincent Miccheche

Guitar — Spencer Drake

Drums — Craig Ridgway

Vocals — Melanie Grittters and Tyler Stimson

The Pearl City Jazz performance is part of the InSpire Holiday Pop-Up Market as part of the continuation of the Raise the Roof Capital Campaign. Both events are happening Saturday at The Spire Theater in Jamestown.

The holiday market will run from noon-6 p.m. in The Odyssey Banquet Hall featuring over 20 local vendors with artisan, handmade and seasonal items, food and drinks, prize drawings and fun festivities for kids and adults. The concert will begin at the culmination of the market at 6 p.m. Also to perform will be Dem Bones trombone ensemble. Dem Bones is the opening act of the concert at 6 p.m. Pearl City Jazz will follow after a brief intermission.

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