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Reno Jazz Orchestra continues jazz online


Submitted by Chuck Reider, Reno Jazz Orchestra

Reno Jazz Orchestra, this Sunday, May 16, is continuing its monthly YouTube jazz concerts with the Bayberry Cast. Co-leaders Darcy Kathleen and Lucas Arizu are truly international artists, both with a unique path to our jazz community. 

Arizu was born in Argentina and began studying music at Escuela La Musica Buenos Aires.  An avid skier, during his summer break (our winter) he would work in Tahoe as a ski instructor. Arizu would always bring his guitar to practice while here and as he met local musicians he started getting called for gigs. 

Local guitarist George Souza suggested Arizu check into University of Nevada, Reno’s jazz program, which he did, and graduated in 2015. 

Lucas Arizu and Darcy Kathleen of Bayberry Cast. Image: Provided by RJO

Kathleen is a local artist, born in Elko, with her first singing gig with Wally Jones at the Roxy. But it was off to San Francisco to study architecture and perform nights with a quartet at The Top of the Mark. Then off to Italy to sing for four years. Back home for a few years then off to New York City. 

Coming back home, she met Arizu and they have been partners ever since.

I asked Kathleen about the unique name of the ensemble. She has always been enamored by the roaring 20’s music and fashion. The Hampton’s Bayberry Lands estate built in 1918 on Long Island was her inspiration for the ensembles name.  

And cast? Since the ensemble ranges from a duo to a septet, cast captures all sizes and introduces a more theatrical aspect. 

Arizu and Kathleen are full time working musicians in town and they love living here and working with members of our jazz community. Kathleen has performed all over the world and loves our local scene the best. Be sure to catch them by visiting https://renojazzorchestra.org/gigs.html. The concert is Sunday, May 16 at 2 p.m.

If you didn’t catch RJO’s first two monthly YouTube concerts, you can use the link above.

The April 18 premiere broadcast featured tenor saxophonist Doug Coomler’s Blue Note Quintet performing classic jazz from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Jazz fans are familiar with the Blue Note record label, but if you are not, let me give you some history. 

Doug Coomler performs at Sand Harbor.
Doug Coomler performs at Sand Harbor. Image: RJO

Alfred Lion, a Berlin jazz enthusiast, moved to New York City in 1937 and recorded the first Blue Note album in 1939. What began as a traditional “hot” jazz label morphed in a contemporary jazz label with the 1947 Thelonious Monk recordings. Soon to follow was drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. 

The 1950’s Blue Note added numerous artists including Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorham, and Sonny Rollins. The 1960’s brough Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson and Freddie Hubbard. 

Lion was generous to the musicians by allowing them to record early in the morning after their club dates. He also paid for rehearsals. Bob Porter of the competing jazz label Prestige Records once said, “The difference between Blue Note and Prestige is two days’ rehearsal.”

If you don’t recognize the jazz artists above, check them out.  You will be in for an amazing musical journey. Coomler has been performing with the RJO since our first CD recorded in 2000 but has been on hiatus with us for a year or two taking care of family. Great to have him back. Besides being a great saxophonist, he is a great educator co-directing the Reno Youth Jazz Orchestra and now teaching music at Mendive Middle School. 

On March 21 we featured the Latin jazz sextet No Comprende. Led by RJO bassist Hans Halt, the group has been performing since 1994 throughout northern Nevada. Halt fell in love with Latin music while living in San Francisco and performing in a number of Latin ensembles including Pete and Sheila Escovedo and several members of Santana.

Joining Halt were: Dallas Smith on sax and flute; Eric Finkelstein on drums; Chance Utter on congas; Kris Landrum on keyboards; and Eric Middleton on vibes and percussion. 

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