'Tidings of Comfort & Jazz' co-produced by Carriage House Players
Traditional holiday music re-imagined by jazz quintet What Would Mingus Do? will be the first in a series of performances in the Kenan Center's Taylor Theater in Lockport. The concerts will feature two 45-minute sets and take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2 and 3.
This unprecedented program of jazz interpretations of holiday tunes will launch a new collaboration between the Kenan Center and Carriage House Players.
Kathleen Rooney, co-producer of the concerts, said the goal of the holiday concerts is to re-launch the Taylor Theater, an intimate performance space ideally suited for music and theater.
"This quintet, led by award-winning saxophonist Kelly Bucheger, typically plays straight-ahead jazz and original compositions," Roone said. For the two shows, every member of the group will create new arrangements of traditional holiday tunes. "Many of us have classic holiday recordings that feature Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Wynton Marsalis, Nat Cole, Tony Bennett and other jazz greats. This concert is in that spirit."
What Would Mingus Do? features leader Kelly Bucheger, alto and tenor saxophones; Mark Filsinger, trumpet and flugelhorn; Jared Tinkham, guitar; Joe Goehle, bass; and Alec Dube, drums.
The Taylor Theater is a 153-seat converted carriage house that began presenting plays, films, music and other performances in 1969. The Carriage House Players is a concept launched by Lockport natives Peg Riley Merrill and Rooney, both veterans of the Taylor Theater stage.
"Peg directed a very successful production of Noel Coward's classic comedy, 'Blithe Spirit' last winter," said Jayne Walker Lloyd, Kenan board president. "It lit the spark for us to explore reigniting the Taylor's stage for future productions."
Kenan Center Executive Director Susan Przybyl said the Taylor Theater was once a hub of activity that has been under-utilized in recent years.
"We can't think of a better way to kick-off our upcoming 50th anniversary season than by energizing this jewel of a venue," she said.
Merrill, who performed in many productions at the Taylor Theater, will direct as well as act in upcoming shows. Both Merrill and Rooney are looking into a special showcase production for April 2017 that will kick off a series of concerts and plays. They aim to produce shows that will attract a multigenerational audience from Lockport and the surrounding communities.
"In addition to being a great performance space, the theater is well positioned and easy to get to, with lots of free parking," Merrill said. "We hope to attract performers from all over the area and build our audience through a variety of shows."
The Kenan Center is located at 433 Locust St., Lockport. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.kenancenter.org or call 716-433-2617. Tickets for "Tidings of Comfort & Jazz" are $10 for Kenan Center members and $15 for the general public.