The Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra (HCJO), a professional jazz band based on the West Michigan Lakeshore, returns with live concerts for 2021-22.
The group will play several shows this season after enjoying a triumphant return to the stage with the Holland Symphony Orchestra at the Pops at the Pier concert in July.
For the 2021-22 concert season, the group will feature several guest conductors following the departure of founding musical director Jordan VanHemert, who has accepted a teaching position at Columbus State University in Georgia.
Four large concerts are planned, in addition to several smaller concerts using varied instrumentation and personnel. Mark Wells, a music teacher in the East Grand Rapids Public School District, will open the season with the band at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 26 at the Park Theater in Holland. Admission is $10.
Wells has been teaching instrumental music since 2001. He currently teaches middle and high schools in East Grand Rapids and plays lead trombone in the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra and Big Band Nouveau, of which he is also co-leader and co-founder.
Stafford Hunter on trombone will also join the HCJO for the September performance. Hunter is a 21-year veteran of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and was recently appointed visiting professor at Hope College in Holland. He has performed with Tony Bennett, Roy Hargrove, Donald Byrd Dance Troupe, Cab Calloway Orchestra, Joss Stone, Orrin Evans, the Mingus Big Band, Lauryn Hill and many more.
The band recently recorded a brand new album with saxophonist Derek Brown, and “All Figured Out” is receiving rave reviews. Recorded in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic, the album features Brown as a soloist on tenor saxophone, as well as numerous members of the HCJO and Hope College Music Department.
This is Brown’s first Big Band album recording. Brown will join the band this winter to celebrate the album release with a live performance.
Founded in 2018, the HCJO has promoted its core mission and values of “Defend, Educate, Perform” through high-energy performances, clinics and presentations. The band members have played with many outstanding bands and musicians and have enjoyed careers spanning decades of performing and teaching.
More information about the band can be found at www.hollandcjo.org.
Hope teacher takes Lakeshore jazz to the next level with new orchestra