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Kansas City Symphony’s

Sunday, May 26, 2019 at Union Station (Rain or Shine)


A La Mode      Shades of Blue      Under the Big Oak Tree 

A La Mode Quartet

A La Mode Quartet

Jesica Poell, vocals
Clayton DeLong, guitar
Marvin Gruenbaum, violin
Steve Rigazzi, string bass
John Blegen, clarinet/saxophone
Jurgen Welge, drums

A La Mode is a versatile jazz ensemble, presenting favorite songs of the American Songbook, the Big Band era, Gypsy jazz, Bossa Nova, Blues and Kansas City jazz. At the nucleus of the quartet are founding members Jesica “Baby J” DeLong (vocals) and Clayton DeLong (guitar), who brainstormed the band name and artistic direction more than 10 years ago while patronizing a local dessert shop. Jesica is an enchanting songstress, formerly an aspiring opera singer until realizing her true passion was to become a renowned jazz vocalist. Clayton is an expert in all jazz styles, presenting accomplished guitar solos that are both astonishing and captivating.

Jazz violinist Marvin Gruenbaum (a violist with the Kansas City Symphony for 37 years and counting) plays in a spirited funky and bluesy fiddle style, offering inspired solos and spicy interplay with Jesica’s vocal lines. Bassist Steve Rigazzi, a well-known veteran of the Kansas City jazz community, teams up with Clayton to provide the band’s solid “backbone,” and offers playful solos and a keen sense of humor. Clarinetist/saxophonist John Blegen (acquired from the Chicago jazz scene), a true virtuoso, will make a repeat appearance, and German-born drummer Jurgen Welge (active in Kansas City jazz for 27 years) will bring his unique percussive arsenal to make his Bank of America Celebration at the Station debut. The musical banter between the soloists — and the reciprocal energy generated between the band and audience — promises to be electrifying, as a timeless flash of synchronicity with our city’s jazz heritage. For more details, visit alamodejazz.com.

Shades of Blue Jazz Ensemble
Shades of Blue

The Shades of Blue Jazz Ensemble is a group of 18 enlisted professional musicians whose repertoire ranges from traditional big band jazz to bebop and swing to modern jazz. At one of their concerts, you are just as likely to hear the music of contemporary composers as you would the classic sounds of Count Basie or Glenn Miller. Several of the band’s members are also gifted composers and arrangers, and their compositions are often featured in concert.

The band has backed many jazz greats such as Tex Benecke, Denis DiBlasio, Jamey Aebersold, Mike Smith, Bobby Shew, Allen Vizzutti, Jeff Jarvis, Mike Vax, Vaughn Nark, Bill Porter, Carmen Bradford, Shelley Berg, Joe Morello, Steve Houghton and Walt Levinsky. The ensemble is often requested for featured performances at jazz clinics and festivals throughout the country.

Occasionally, Shades of Blue marches onto home plate to perform our national anthem for Chicago White Sox Major League Baseball games, or onto center court to perform for Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks National Basketball Association games. They also pay frequent tribute to the Air Force’s musical heritage, and have collaborated with actor Wilford Brimley on a highly acclaimed salute to Major Glenn Miller. Whether performing for a head of state or for our troops at home and abroad, the Shades of Blue reflects the heritage and pride of our great nation and the United States Air Force.

Shades of Blue Jazz Ensemble

Under the Big Oak Tree
Under the Big Oak Tree

Under the Big Oak Tree’s honeyed blend of acoustic American musical traditions has been described as “warm and picturesque with flawless harmonies.” Their most recent album, “The Ark,” expands on the band’s “timeless and haunting” sonic palette with the addition of lead guitarist Jason Riley. These songs venture deep into themes both light and dark. Since their 2014 debut album, band members Kristin Hamilton, Doug “Sluggo” Ward and Simon Fink have shared their talents on stages throughout the area, delighting audiences with original songs that amply display their vocal and instrumental skills.

For more information about the 17th annual Bank of America Celebration at the Station, visit the main page or the official Facebook event page.

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