A Jazzy Christmas | Studio Blog

Gathering a large slice of first-rate RVA musicians for a holiday concert is almost getting to be a holiday tradition.

This is the fourth (now sold out) edition of A Richmond Big Band Christmas. The first two were in 2014 and 2015, and then there was a not-entirely COVID-driven gap until last year. Much has changed since, not least Barnette becoming the Virginia Commonwealth University director of jazz studies. But the essential elements have remained, including an emphasis on sacred songs, vocals from talented musicians with deep ties to the local scene, and the leadership of Taylor Barnett. This year, the singers are Desiree Roots, Laura Ann Singh, and Rufus Johnson.

The concert resulted from Barnett and his wife Tiffanie Chan’s shared role as Worship Art directors at West End Presbyterian Church. The idea was to leverage Barnetts’ big band arranging chops to create a religious event for public consumption: a jazz analog of Handel’s “Messiah.” The 2022 edition, like the first, is a benefit for Church Hill Activities and Tutoring, a nonprofit serving students and families in the East End of Richmond.

Barnett promises a fresh and memorable show. “In addition to the new singers, we will have mostly new arrangements by Bryan Hooten [NoBS! Brass] and myself. I think it will be some pretty exciting stuff.” Which means either finding someone with a spare ticket, or acting faster next year, and reserving a space for one of the very promising December events.

But if you missed out on the Big Band Christmas this year, Susan Greenbaum performs her annual holiday show on Sunday, Dec. 4 (“You know what’s good about holiday shows in early December?” she writes. “It’s too early to be tired of Christmas music!”)

And a little later this month, you can catch a Christmas Eve performance at Gallery 5 featuring Michael Hawkins’ all-star Brotherhood quartet and singer Laura Ann Singh.

A Richmond Big Band Christmas will take place at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Friday, Dec 2 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec 3 at 2 p.m. Susan Greenbaum appears at the Tin Pan on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. Admission is $25. Michael Hawkins and The Brotherhood’s Holiday Jazz Night Special is at Gallery 5 on Dec. 23 at 7 p.m.

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