Thursday, September 7, 2017



with The John Colianni Trio

WHEN: Friday, September 15, 2017   - 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm
WHERE: RUTHERFURD HALL, 1686 Route 517, Allamuchy
TICKETS: $30 Advance

According to Jazz FMTM, "If you get a chance to see James Tormé you should beg, borrow, even steal a ticket". With just a single visit to one of James' shows it's easy to see why the multi-award winning singer is quickly becoming one of the most talked about artists on the planet. James Tormé (who is the son of 3-time Grammy Award Winning jazz legend Mel Tormé) is taking the legacy he was born into even further - and causing a serious buzz in the process.

Often appearing with outfits like the BBC Concert Orchestra, Ronnie Scott's Orchestra and Les Paul Trio, the charismatic young star's debut album has topped both the iTunes and Amazon Jazz Charts*. Tormé is "the best male jazz singer to come along in 20 years" according to long time Verve Records president, Chuck Mitchell, the man who first discovered him. Having grown up spending time with a myriad of jazz legends (Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee, Duke Ellington, George Shearing, Buddy Rich & more), one begins to understand why.

Tormé himself attributes as much of his ability as a performer to the "process of osmosis” as he does to his own show-business background. Explains Tormé, “There's no question, I absorbed a lot from my dad, and his peers.” This is clear as soon as one hears his singing style, which draws from the “old school”, but with modern styling that makes it very current in today's market. 

James Tormé is being praised from all corners of the globe by everyone from BillboardTM and CBS News, to BBC Radio 2 and Jamie Cullum. Possessing the look (and swagger) of a Hollywood star, he seems to know just how to handle all the press attention he's getting. It's no mystery that Tormé is now consistently appearing to standing room only crowds at the world's top venues as well as being featured as the centerpiece of prestigious jazz festivals across the globe. Says Tormé, "Every show, every appearance is important to me, whether it's the Greek Theater or a small jazz club. I remember every audience I want to give them a night they'll never forget."

John Colianni  "Jonnny Chops" grew up in the Washington, D.C. metro area and first heard Jazz on swing-era LP re-issues (Ellington, Goodman, Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie, Armstrong, etc.) in his parents' home. A performance by Teddy Wilson in Washington attended by John when he was about 12 years old also left a strong impression, as did a Duke Ellington performance.

In 2006, looking for an outlet for his high velocity piano improvisations, John formed the John Colianni Quintet. In July 2007, the group recorded its first CD, "Johnny Chops" (Patuxent Records).Still in high school, John began playing piano professionally on the Washington, D.C. jazz scene, which, during that period, included a number of colorful jazz clubs such as The Pigfoot, Mr. Y's Gold Room, One Step Down, Blues Alley, The Bayou, The Famous Ballroom (Baltimore), Frankie Condon's (Rockville), and other establishments. These were John's first performance venues, and he played among veteran D.C. musicians including Ella Fitzgerald's bassist, Keter Betts, who recruited 16-year-old John for the revue "Jazz Stars Of The Future."

Jazz Studies Director George Ross recruited John, still in tenth grade, to play regularly with the University of Maryland Jazz Ensemble The Coliannis relocated to the Jersey Shore during John's senior year in high school. It was there that John caught the attention of Carlton Drinkard, former accompanist to the one and only "Lady Day" Billie Holiday. Drinkard (aka "Piano Man" in the criticaly acclaimed film "Lady Sings The Blues") assembled John's trio, and coached him in creating new arrangements and performing before live audiences.

Ryan Cross is a name that is synonymous with professionalism and musical excellence. Glee, Friends, ER, The West Wing, Studio 60, Cold Case, Along Came Polly and Poseidon are just a few of the television and film productions that have benefited from his expertise. Ryan Cross is a rare find in that his administrative skills strongly rival his musical talent. His passion for music was birthed at the tender age of 8 when he began to study classical cello. At the age of 16, he discovered the acoustic bass & seized the opportunity to study under Ray Brown, one of the most well-known and prolific bass players of our time. Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Ryan moved to Los Angeles, California when he received a full scholarship to attend the University of Southern California where he studied under John Clayton. He graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies and his career immediately took flight. He has appeared and recorded on over 35 TV shows and movies to date.

Dan Schnelle is one of the most talented, in-demand drummers in the Los Angeles area. Known for an intuitive ability to provide precisely what is necessary for each performance, Schnelle understands how to make other musicians comfortable, while bringing enough of the unexpected to his playing to keep it consistently exciting. Unsatisfied with the idea that the drum set is merely a time-keeping device, Schnelle is thoughtful about how this unique instrument, with its nearly limitless variety of sounds, can be tastefully and effectively deployed in a wide variety of musical situations. Years spent collaborating with some of the best musicians in Los Angeles have earned him a reputation as a hard-working, professional, and creative team player; one who is, above all, committed to musical excellence. A list of collaborators include: Josh Nelson, Daniel Rosenboom, Anthony Wilson, Laurence Hobgood, Walter Smith III, Joshua White, Sara Gazarek, Larry Goldings, Philip Dizack, Dayna Stephens, Larry Koonse, Ben Wendel, Nick Mancini,& more.

Soon afterward, when he was 19, John visited Lionel Hampton backstage at an Atlantic City casino. He landed a spot in Hampton's orchestra and traveled and recorded for three years with Hampton and band members that included tenor sax great Arnett Cobb, saxists Paul Jeffrey and Tom Chapin, drummers Frankie Dunlop, Oliver Jackson and Duffy Jackson, bassists George Duvivier and Arvell Shaw, and others. Not too long after the Hampton gig, John entered and won a cash prize in the first annual Thelonius Monk Piano Competition in 1987.

In the 1980s, John played a variety of gigs, including a stint with the New Orleans-inspired band of movie director/clarinetist Woody Allen. Allen's band played steadily at Michael's Pub in New York, and it was there that John came to the attention of Mel Torme', who was appearing at the same club. Hearing one of John's recordings through the venue's sound system, Torme' promptly hired John as his pianist – without an audition. John worked for Torme' from early 1991 to mid 1995, touring and recording six albums. Now Colianni shares his gifts as a composer, arranger, and band leader with us with the introduction of the John Colianni Jazz Orchestra.