Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra returns live on Saturday

The Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra will make its return after nearly two years when its brings the concert "Nothing But the Blues" to the John Legend Theater on Oct. 16. Courtesy photo
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The Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra will make its return after nearly two years when its brings the concert "Nothing But the Blues" to the John Legend Theater on Oct. 16. Courtesy photo

Group ready to face diversity through optimism in ‘Nothing But the Blues’ concert.

You could say the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra has experienced nothing but the blues since March 2020. Establishing a fan base in the fall of 2019 with a successful concert behind them and another scheduled, the pandemic wiped out the debut season finale and any attempt to relaunch last year.

Yet to hear SSJO director Todd Stoll tell it, that’s part of the blues.

“The blues tells us in the end, we’ll be okay. It’s facing adversity through optimism through music,” he said.

So it’s fitting the SSJO will make its comeback with a concert titled “Nothing But the Blues” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, at the John Legend Theater, 700 S. Limestone St.

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Following a combined show with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra at the recent Summer Arts Festival, Stoll and the 17-piece SSJO are ready to rock again, he said from his office at the Jazz at Lincoln Center education program in New York City, where he only just got back to as well.

“It was great to get that first time back together. Part of our lives is that collective energy,” he said.

Stoll doesn’t consider the blues just a music genre, but a thread connecting American music and important in the culture.

“There’s a thread from blues through country music, rock and up to today’s music like Megan Thee Stallion or Beyonce,” he said.

“Nothing But the Blues” will be a journey through nearly 100 years of blues history, starting with the 1925 recording by Fletcher Henderson that featured a young Louis Armstrong up to a piece conducted by a young trombonist named Chris Crenshaw written four years ago.

Vocalist Chris McDole, who debuted with the SSJO when he was just 19, will return to perform on a couple of songs. The works of Charles Mingus, Mary Lou Williams, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and others will be included.

“It’s easy content to listen to and fun,” said Stoll. “Everybody gets the blues and these songs are from the greatest period of blues in American history.”

The concert will feature special guests Sam Chess, a New York-based trombonist; Sequoia Snyder, a Washington, D.C., pianist; and Cuban horn player Jesus Ricardo.

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Stoll said a Springfield audience deserves the chance to hear world-class musicians such as these. It’s this community he honed his love for music and loves to give back.

“Springfield is a place whether it’s bluegrass, jazz, art, whatever, people will accept it if it’s done with integrity and professionalism. I’m thrilled my hometown has this thriving arts scene. The band is ready to play and we’re thrilled to give back.”

Tickets are still available.


HOW TO GO

What: Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra – Nothing But the Blues

Where: John Legend Theater at The Dome, 700 S. Limestone St., Springfield

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16

Admission: $25

More info: springfieldsym.org/springfield-symphony-jazz-orchestra/