Featuring trumpeters, vocalists, and composers Bria Skonberg and Benny Benack III, the North American tour of SING AND SWING: Our American Songbook will be at the Eccles Mainstage Theater at Utah Tech University on February 13, 2024 at 7:30 PM.
“We’re both fans of the classic songbook era and the artists that made it possible,” says Skonberg. “The fact that we’re still playing these songs 75 to 100 years after they were written is a testament to their quality. Naturally, we gravitated towards the great pairings of trumpet players and vocalists, like Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald or Louis Prima and Keely Smith. We’ve listened to that music as long as we have played the trumpet. Also, the band with us is exceptional, so we’ll discover and highlight everybody’s hidden talents.” The show, she notes, “will have a friendly variety show type of feel.”
Benack and Skonberg will lead a talented group featuring Jocelyn Gould (guitar); Jon Thomas (piano); Mark Lewandowski, (bass); and Charles Goold (drums).
The repertoire, notes co-leader Benny Benack III, will include songs such as Duke Ellington’s classic “In a Mellow Tone,” a duet featuring Skonberg on trumpet and vocals, featured in his most recent album, Third Time’s the Charm; “Comes Love,” a nod to the inimitable Louis and Ella; “Banana Split For My Baby,” a cheeky swinger by Louis Prima and Keely Smith, and “I’m Glad There is You,” a classic by Sarah Vaughan and Clifford Brown.
“There’re a lot of familiar songs that people know and love,” says Benack. “But we have put fresh arrangements on these songs. And Bria and I also have some of our brand-new original material inspired by this era’s music. We wanted to have a modern take on the songwriting form. So we have some of that as well. You keep the music fresh by adding your experiences and making it relatable to the audience before you.”
To present SING AND SWING: Our American Songbook, and following the success of last year’s “SONGS WE LOVE: 50 Years of Jazz Song,” Jazz at Lincoln Center is partnering again with the international booking agency IMG Artists. The aim of JALC’s tour initiative is to allow presenters to offer excellent jazz programming while introducing to a broader audience the musicians who will reinterpret and reimagine the sound of jazz for years to come. It is part of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s mission “to entertain, enrich, and expand a global community for jazz through performance, education, and advocacy.” As part of those efforts, the SING AND SWING: Our American Songbook tour will include an educational component in selected cities.
“I didn’t grow up in a big city. I grew up in a small town,” says Skonberg, a native of Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. “There was no way that anything from Jazz at Lincoln Center would come there. It will be a real pleasure to connect with people from different towns along the way. It’s going to be a joy to get to spread the word.”
Called “one of the most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation” by the Wall Street Journal, Bria Skonberg is a singular talent who has performed with everyone from Jon Batiste, Wycliffe Gordon, U2 and Sun Ra Arkestra to the nation’s top symphony orchestras. Her music has garnered tens of millions of streams worldwide. The Juno award winner’s seventh studio album What it Means, which was recorded in New Orleans with the Cres-cent City’s finest, will be released in Fall of 2024.
The daughter of teachers, Skonberg is deeply committed to education. She is the co-founder and director of the New York Hot Jazz Camp, and has served as faculty at the Teagarden, Centrum and Geri Allen Jazz Camps, in addi-tion to presenting hundreds of concerts and clinics for students of all ages, both independently and on behalf of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Jazz House Kids, and the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
Benack, part of a family of Pittsburgh jazz notables, follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, trumpeter, and bandleader Benny Benack, Sr. (1921-86), and his father Benny Benack, Jr., a saxophonist and clarinetist who gave young Benny his first professional experience.
An Emmy-nominated trumpeter and vocalist, Benack (affectionately known as BB3) was recognized in the 2022 DownBeat Critics Poll as a Rising Star Male Vocalist and a top Rising Star Trumpeter. He has performed interna-tionally as an Emcee/Host for Postmodern Jukebox, and appeared as a trumpet soloist for Josh Groban, Diplo, fash-ion icon Isaac Mizrahi, as well as cabaret legends such as Marilyn Maye, Melissa Errico and Ann Hampton Calla-way. He has also been a special guest with the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops Orchestra and the Columbus Jazz Or-chestra. His TV credits include appearances in the house band of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as well as NBC’s Maya & Marty. He achieved online notoriety for his vocal features with the GRAMMY-award winning “8-Bit Big Band” as well as his viral hit sensation music video of “Social Call” featuring Veronica Swift. Benack has recorded four well-received albums, One of a Kind, A Lot of Livin’ to Do, Season’s Swingin’ Greetings and, mostly recently, Third Time’s the Charm.
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