The Gainesville Big Band kicks off the Fourth of July weekend at “Free Fridays” with the All-American Song Fest Friday, July 1.
The Gainesville Big Band began as the Gainesville Community Jazz Band. Since 2007, the band has brought big band jazz to Gainesville and the surrounding areas. They are an 18-piece jazz band that plays a wide range of big band styles such as traditional swing, dance, Latin and contemporary jazz. Under the direction of Marco Thomas, along with the sultry vocal sounds of Pattie Glenn, the band delivers a rich full sound from Basie to Ellington, Gershwin to Miller, Porter to Mercer, Vegas to Broadway and favorite ‘60s television soundtracks. The “Free Fridays” concert will have a patriotic theme to celebrate American independence.
Members of The Gainesville Big Band include Paul Gader (alto sax), Anne McReynolds (alto sax), John Leibach (tenor sax), John Gregory (tenor sax), John Hiemenz (baritone sax), Katey Sands (baritone sax), Paul McReynolds (trumpet), Dan Neal (trumpet), Rod Butler (trumpet), Chuck Riggs (trumpet), Nick Simpson (trombone), Garry Davis (trombone), Dan Wells (trombone), Albert Issac (trombone), Marco Thomas (bass trombone), Geena Cesar (piano) Anthony Clark (guitar), Chad Young (bass), Angel Vera (bass), Masa Enomoto (drums) Marvin Ripner (drums) and Pattie Glenn (vocals).
Director Marco Thomas began his professional music training at Florida Southern College, earning a Bachelor of Arts in music education while studying under Director of Instrumental Studies and Director of Jazz Ensemble Dr. Brian S. Brink. Thomas was also a student of world-renowned jazz composer and trumpet player Nat Adderley (“Work Song”). Thomas was awarded a Master of Arts in music performance on trombone from the University of Florida, while studying under Dr. Arthur Jennings. He played with the UF Jazz Ensemble while there. Thomas is a past member of the Atlanta-based African-American Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra. He currently performs with several local groups and has published articles in Instrumentalist Magazine. The Gainesville Big Band vocalist Pattie Glenn has been singing big band and classic jazz since 1992.
The 2016 “Free Fridays” concert series is produced by the City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department and funded in part by grants from Visit Gainesville and Culture Builds Florida. The concerts play each Friday night this year from Friday, May 6 through Friday, Oct. 21 from 8-10 p.m. at the Bo Diddley Plaza, at 111 E. University Ave. in downtown Gainesville. To view the complete “Free Fridays” 2016 schedule, please visit the Cultural Affairs Division website at www.gvlculturalaffairs.org