This year is the 20th anniversary for the Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra, which initially started as a rehearsal band for Gwinnell to hear his compositions and arrangements played. With encouragement from friends/musicians and an offer of a weekly gig at the Music Menu Cafe in Detroit’s Greektown. Gwinnell and his musicians made a commitment to present high quality big band jazz music. After the Menu, the band moved to the Cadieux Cafe on the east side of Detroit where gigs were routinely accented with the playing of Detroit trumpet legend Marcus Belgrave, who eventually joined the SGJO for their first record in 2002, “Basement Vibes.”
During this time the band also began to branch out. Gigs with the late great tenor player Donald Walden, a feature performance in Toronto at the International Association of Jazz Educators with sax virtuoso Dave Liebman, and WDET radio dates highlight this period.
Next, the band began its exciting Wednesday gigs at the then brand new Cliff Bells. With the addition of some more skilled players, the SGJO reached a higher artistic plateau. Working together every week, the band gelled and impressed new audiences of jazz fans, musicians, and critics. SGJO then released a CD “Brush Fire” (2010 WSG Music) which won two Detroit Music Awards and also did performances with Aria Hendricks and Dominic Faranacci, as well as performances at the Detroit Jazz Festival and other festivals which gave the SGJO more notoriety.
In 2009, the SGJO was chosen to be part of a big project proposed by the Detroit Jazz Festival. The artist-in-residence, the acclaimed bassist/composer John Clayton, was commissioned to write a suite based on Detroit jazz legends. The SGJO would play a series of summer concerts, with the finale being a performance to close that year’s festival. The suite paired the Clayton Brothers Quintet with the SGJO in a 55 minute concerto grosso. All of the musicians performed greatly, receiving a 5 minute standing ovation.
Some of the frequent musicians involved with the Cliff Bells SGJO group are: Keith Kaminski, James Hughes, Steve Wood, Carl Cafagna, and Mark Berger on saxes. Dave Jensen, Terry Kimura, Tony Buccilli, and Stefan Stolarchuk on trombone. Trumpets are Bob Jensen, Paul Finkbeiner, John Douglas, and Justin Walter. Jordan Schug plays bass and Scott Kretzer plays the drums.
The most recent project has been a recording of the music of Mulgrew Miller (Detroit Music Factory label).
A High School Jazz Band will open at 7 pm.