Columbia Jazz Band show also a homecoming for guest soloist
By Mike Giuliano
Baltimore Sun Media|
Sep 19, 2019 | 5:00 AM
When the Columbia Jazz Band and featured saxophonist Pete BarenBregge perform at 8 p.m. Friday at Slayton House, the concert will qualify as something new for the band and as a homecoming for the soloist.
What’s new here is a partnership between the Columbia Jazz Band and the Columbia Orchestra, for whom this is the inaugural concert in the orchestra’s new guest artist series. The jazz band will perform independently, but it benefits from being under the administrative umbrella provided by the orchestra. From a marketing perspective, one of those immediate benefits is how the jazz band gets its own page within the orchestra’s 2019-2020 season brochure.
“The orchestra has a great infrastructure built over the years and being part of that infrastructure is good for us,” said Columbia Jazz Band director Fred Hughes. “The mission and the type of programming that the jazz band wants to do seems like a good fit.”
The jazz band’s 20 members mostly live in Howard County and have been with it for years. Whether performing at indoor venues or outdoors, the band is an important part of the local musical landscape.
“We just keep moving forward and getting better tackling more difficult music,” said Hughes, 58, who lives near St. Michaels on the Eastern Shore.
He noted that making the drive across the Bay Bridge is no big deal for a jazz pianist who has done his share of musical gigs over the decades. Retired from the United States Army touring ensemble known as the Jazz Ambassadors, Hughes leads a jazz trio of his own that tours and records. He also wrote a book, “The Jazz Pianist: Left Hand Voicings and Chord Theory,” which was published by Alfred Publications.
The Columbia Jazz Band concert Friday will be followed by two more at Slayton House: a Korean War era-themed program on Nov. 10 and a salute to Duke Ellington on May 1.
Hughes’ background with a military service band is a professional link that connects him with the saxophone soloist at the upcoming concert.
BarenBregge, 70, is the retired musical director of the United States Air Force Airmen of Note. A former director of the Columbia Jazz Band, BarenBregge moved from suburban Washington, D.C., to Venice, Florida three years ago.
“I’m very excited about this. It was a major part of my life. Those were good days,” Barenbregge recalled of a period with the Columbia Jazz Band that included European tours.
For his homecoming concert, he will be the featured soloist on the numbers “Tickle Toe,” “Midnight Voyage,” “Just Friends,” “Joy of Spring,” “Everlasting” and “Autumn.”
Asked about those solo opportunities, he responded with a laugh: “I don’t want to be a hot dog, because you should also spread around the wealth.”
Besides being happy about the opportunity to appear again with the Columbia Jazz Band, he is also pleased about playing in a cozy jazz club setting at Slayton House.
“I’m a believer in communicating with the audience, both through the music and verbally. I like to be close to them,” Barenbregge said.
By now settled into a new life in Florida, he co-leads a rehearsal band there that he envisions growing into a performance band. He also teaches online and works part-time as a jazz editor for Alfred Music Publishing.
“I tell myself I am being too busy for a guy who is supposed to be slowing down,” he observed.
The Columbia Jazz Band performs at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane in Columbia. Tickets are $25 for cabaret seating and $20 for theater seating. Wine, beer and snacks are available for purchase. Call 410-465-8777 or go to columbiaorchestra.org.