Jazzed in the Valley

premiere performance planned for new jazz orchestra

Carrie Weiss

It’s jazz time.

Jazz as a music genre has never been underrepresented in the Chippewa Valley. The appetite for horns and reeds has ensured that enthusiasts can see live jazz just about any weekend of the year. But on February 20, a brand new jazz ensemble called the Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra wants to bring jazz like it hasn’t been brought before. The 17-piece big band, conducted by Bruce Hering, will debut at the Heyde Center. The big band is the brainchild of UWEC political science professor, Geoff Peterson. Peterson has a passion for percussion, but had been limited to drumming at home. “We’ve got a community band, community theatre, we’ve got community symphony, we’ve got all of these things where community members can participate, and no place for community members really to play jazz,” Peterson stated. Early last summer, a conversation with Hering, a band director at Memorial High School, changed that. Peterson relayed his vision of a full big band, reminiscent of a stellar group from his hometown of Fargo Moorhead. They put out the call to the music community, and Peterson was amazed to find far more musicians than places for them in the band. The volunteer members are the crème de la crème of the valley’s music scene, including many of Eau Claire’s school band directors, some UWEC students, and one high school guitarist. CVJO’s premiere performance will feature the sounds of Grammy nominated Sammy Nestico and Grammy award-winner Gordon Goodwin.

Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra’s Premiere Performance • Saturday, Feb. 20 • Heyde Center for the Arts, 3 N High St., Chippewa Falls • 7 pm • adults $5, seniors $4, under 23 FREE • www.chippewajazz.org

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