Deborah Brown

The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra’s 2017-2018 concert season gets off to a big start tonight at the Mill and Mine, 227 West Depot Ave., in downtown Knoxville, with a “Tribute to Sarah Vaughan,” featuring well-known jazz singer Deborah Brown.

Vaughan, one of the most loved jazz artists of the 20th century, made major contributions to what is known as the Great American Songbook with her unforgettable interpretations of popular songs. Known as “The divine one” and “Sassy,” she possessed a flawless technique, incredible range of expression, masterful sense of swing and effortless command of subtle harmony.

Those same descriptions have been applied to Brown. The Kansas City native perfected her art in Europe, then returned home to establish herself as Vaughan’s heir-apparent.

The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra has been providing top notch jazz since its inception in 1999. A 17-piece big band, KJO has performed dozens of concerts in East Tennessee and earned praise at jazz festivals across Europe. The band has performed and recorded with international guest artist and has released four critically-acclaimed recordings.

Tickets for the Vaughan tribute show are $36.50 for adults and $15 for students, available at the door and in advance at www.knoxjazz.org.

The second in KJO’s premium concerts at the Mill and Mine will be an Evening with Bill Frisell on Jan. 23, 2018.

Oct. 3, at 8 p.m., KJO will present Thelonious Monk Centennial Celebration with pianist, composer and arranger John Beasley joining the orchestra. Beasley is the creator of the Monk’estra, a group that celebrates the genius of Monk’s music, but with Beasley’s contemporary twist, incorporating Afro-Cuban rhythms, modern jazz rhythms and harmonies, and hip-hop, all with big band instrumentation.

Oct. 4, noon to 1 p.m., the KJO’s Jazz Lunch series begins at the Square Room on Market Square with a concert by the Mike Baggetta Trio. The $15 admission includes a lunch buffet served by Cafe 4. The trio is composed of guitarist Baggetta, bass guitarist Jerome Harris and drummer Billy Mintz, making their first performance in their east coast tour. They will be playing music from their album Spectre, recognized as one of the best new jazz albums of 2016.

2017 ends with a Swingin’ Christmas concert at the Tennessee Theatre with the KJO joined by multi-talented instrumentalist and vocalist Wycliffe Gordon. A veteran of the bands of Wynton Marsalis, Gordon has earned a reputation as one of the most dynamic brass players and entertaining performers in jazz.

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Written by Harold Duckett