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The Empire Jazz Orchestra
The Empire Jazz Orchestra is a professional jazz ensemble in residence at Schenectady County Community College. Founded in 1992, the EJO is dedicated to the performance of quality ensemble music from all eras of jazz. The EJO is conducted by Dr. William Meckley, Dean of the SCCC School of Music, and features numerous SCCC music faculty members and alumni, including Brett Wery, Brian Patneaude, Cliff Brucker and Keith Pray '93.
The orchestra is comprised of many of the Capital Region's finest professional musicians. The EJO also features major jazz artists as guest soloists. Guest artists have included Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, the late Nick Brignola, former Blood Sweat and Tears trumpeter Lew Soloff, The Four Freshmen, and Saxophonist Mark Vinci.
Repertoire of the EJO ranges from early works of Jelly Roll Morton and Joe "King" Oliver to the commissioning of new music for big band. The orchestra is especially noted for its performances of original scores of important composers and arrangers such as Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Charles Mingus, Oliver Nelson, and numerous others.
The EJO has released its fifth recording, Accentuate the Positive. The CD includes live recordings from EJO concerts of music by Clare Fischer, Mary Lou Williams, Thelonious Monk, Harold Arlen, and others. Featured is a performance of Oliver Nelson's major three-movement work, "Sound Piece for Jazz Orchestra." The CD was mixed and mastered by SCCC alumnus and faculty member Sten Isachsen '89. William Meckley produced the recording and the SCCC Foundation was a co-producer. Since its release, music from the new CD has been featured on the Jazz After Hours program on Public Radio International from Seattle and on several regional jazz broadcasts.
The EJO's other CDs are: Live and Kickin'; The EJO Plays Ellington; Anniversary; and Symphonies In Riffs.
Dr. William Meckley, Dean of the SCCC School of Music, holds the Doctor of Philosphy degree from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied advanced jazz conducting with Rayburn Wright. He is a recipient of State University of New York Chancellors' Award for Excellence in Teaching and the SUNY Chancellors Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities. Cited by Metroland, as one of the Capital Regions' "best" jazz musicians, Dr. Meckley is also an active freelance trombonist and conductor throughout New York and the Eastern United States.
The Empire Jazz Orchestra Jazz Master Series featuring Ray Vega, trumpet
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
8:00 p.m. in Carl B. Taylor Auditorium
A much in-demand musician, Ray Vega has performed with Mongo Santamaria with whom he recorded numerous CD's, Mario Bauza's Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, including their first-ever European tour, and Ray Barretto and the New World Spirit. Vega was privileged to record three projects with this landmark group including the Grammy nominated "Taboo" and "Contact". It was during his time with Barretto that Vega was called upon to join the Tito Puente Latin Jazz Orchestra as lead trumpeter. Vega recorded with Puente's Orchestra many times over including the Grammy winning "Mambo Birdland", "Dancemania '99" and "Obra Maestra." Also music of Gil Evans, Claude Thornhill, Keith Pray, Duke Ellington, and others.
Tickets are $20 for the general public; $6 for non-SCCC students; and free for SCCC students, faculty and staff with ID. For tickets, please contact the School of Music at (518) 381-1231, ext. 2 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Begley Building, Room 201
Weekdays before 4:00 p.m.
Read about what some of the music program's graduates are up to on the Music Alumni Page.