In the 1970s, cornetist/trumpeter Warren Vache was part of the house band at Eddie Condon's jazz club on West 54th Street in New York City. During his break, the twenty-something musician would walk down the block to Jimmy Ryan's to hear his idol, the legendary trumpeter Roy Eldridge. "Roy would scan the bar, and he would see me -- the young blood, the competition," Vache said. "The roof would come off the place."
Vache, now 61, is an inspiration to a new generation of jazz musicians, and on Sunday, January 27, at Drew University, he will be sharing the spotlight with one of his proteges, the outstanding young trumpeter/vocalist Bria Skonberg. The event is an all-star jam session celebrating the 40th anniversary of the New Jersey Jazz Society, and the format consists of four different groups, each with a different leader. Skonberg and Vache will lead bands in the second half of the show, preceded by groups led by trombonist/vocalist Emily Asher and multi-reedist Bob Ackerman in the first half.
The impressive all-star lineup of featured musicians includes, among others, pianists Norman Simmons, Rio Clemente and Tomoko Ohno; drummers Winard Harper and Sherrie Maricle; trumpeter Randy Reinhart; and clarinetist/saxophonist Dan Levinson. And, although the schedule is somewhat scripted, there's no telling what unexpected pleasures may spontaneously erupt.
The New Jersey Jazz Society was formed in 1972 by 18 individuals who got together at The Hillside Lounge in Chester, NJ. It continues to thrive today, dedicated to keeping this music alive via music festivals and concerts, scholarships to deserving New Jersey college jazz studies students and the publication of the award-winning Jersey Jazz Magazine.
The 40th anniversary concert will begin at 3 p.m. on January 27 in the Dorothy Young Center for the Arts at Drew, and the concert will be followed by a wine and cheese reception featuring two emerging jazz stars, pianist Billy Test and guitarist Adam Lomeo. While the event is a celebration, it is also a fundraiser to support the Society's scholarships and in-school programs.
Advance tickets are $30 for members; $35 for non-members; tickets at the door are $5 more. To order tickets, log onto www.njjs.org; send a check with self-addressed, stamped envelope to NJJS, c/o M. Katz, 382 Springfield Ave., Ste. 217, Summit, NJ 07901; or call (908) 273-7827. The concert had orginally been scheduled for November 4, but was postponed because of Hurricane Sandy.