River Cities Jazz Ensemble to play Christmas concert

Published 9:56 pm Saturday, December 5, 2009

IRONTON — The Ohio University Southern Performing Arts Series will present a concert of special Christmas music by the River Cities Jazz Ensemble from Huntington, W.Va., on Friday, at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 in the Ohio University Southern Riffe Center Mains Rotunda.

Their performance features the sounds of Christmas classics played in the big band style of Glenn Miller, The Dorsey Brothers, and many more.

Featured vocalists include Anne Stephens, Sandy Bird, and Mike Campbell.

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Carl Toler, the director, is a retired U.S. Air Force musician who led an Air Force band in travels all over the globe.

Toler is a native of Logan, W.Va., who moved back to his home state after retiring as an investment banker and bandleader in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Jeff Wolfe, a trumpet player in the band who teaches Music Technology at Marshall University, serves as Musical Director.

The Ensemble was established in February 2008 by Toler and Frank Hayes, two U.S. Air Force Band members.

Together they have worked to gather the finest musicians in the Huntington area to form a cohesive big band dedicated to preserving, performing, and promoting big band jazz.

The ensemble consists of a versatile group of musicians from all walks of life, but who share an enthusiasm for offering the public the highest level of professional entertainment.

The RCJE repertory includes works by swing era composers and arrangers for the bands of Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Glenn Miller, and Stan Kenton, as well as traditional Dixieland jazz, military marches and patriotic salutes.

Since its formation last year, the group has played benefit concerts in Huntington at the American legion Hall, the Jean C. Stephenson Auditorium, the Ritter Park Amphitheater, and at the John P. Stephens Cultural Arts Center in Raceland, Ky.

Admission is free and the concert is open to the public.