Anthony Stanco Ensemble: “Jazz Is For The People”

Celebrated trumpeter Anthony Stanco will lead a high-powered quintet for three socially-minded shows around Columbus this week. The Anthony Stanco Ensemble will perform at Brothers Drake on Wednesday, February 6th at 8pm (No cover, info here), at Dick’s Den on Friday, February 8th at 10pm ($5 cover), and at The Refectory on Saturday, February 9th at 6pm (Phone reservations required, info here). Also recognized as a composer, bandleader, and educator, Southeast Michigan native Stanco is now based in Columbus. He is currently a member of the Jazz Studies faculty at The Ohio State University School of Music, where he teaches jazz trumpet, improvisation and arranging. His career has included leading Anthony Stanco & The Crucial Elements, “a nationally-recognized 5-piece ensemble who have served multiple tours with US State Department’s ‘American Music Abroad’ program.” Stanco was kind enough to chat with me by phone last week, so keep reading for his thoughts on this “Columbus edition” of The Crucial Elements and their special presentations in honor of Black History Month:

What is the theme of these shows?

Anthony Stanco (AS): I don’t get a chance to play in Columbus very often, so I figured I might as well book a week’s worth of gigs. We’re going to do a program that I titled “Jazz Is For The People.” It’s going to be “social music,” and it’s also going to be for Black History Month, so we’re going to [play tunes by] African-American composers and have some sort of social aspect along with each tune. Some of the tunes we’re going to do are Joe Henderson’s “Power To The People,” Roy Brooks’ “The Free Slave,” “Come Sunday” – Duke Ellington, which is from his Black, Brown and Beige Suite, and we’re even going to do “For Free,” which is a Kendrick Lamar tune. So it’s going to go from “Black and Blue,” from the 20’s, which was written by Fats Waller, all the way up until now. We’ll be exploring these different concepts.

What is the band lineup for these shows? Will it be the same band each night?

AS: It is almost the same band. Zach Compston is playing drums, John Allen on bass, Paul Strawser on piano, and Faheem Najieb is playing sax. The Dick’s Den show Zach can’t do, so Willie Barthel will play.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about the program?

AS: We’re going to be doing some of my originals as well. One of the tunes I specifically wrote for doing the State Department tours. When we go on these tours, it’s all about this cultural exchange, bringing people together. It’s very social music, the same as what the concept is for a lot of these tunes. I think we’ll be performing a few of the tunes we’re going to be recording for my next record. One is entitled “Better Together,” and another one is simply called “Freedom,” but we usually end the night with both of those tunes. Another one of my tunes we’re going to do is called “When Did This Happen,” which is part of my Look Up, Hannah – A Suite for the Protester, which I wrote back in 2012.

It should be pretty good! We already did one gig – PBJ & Jazz – with this band, so it will be fun. This will be my second gig at The Refectory as a leader, but it will be my first time as a leader at both Dick’s Den and Brothers Drake. It will be fun to make more of a public debut in Columbus.

For more on Stanco, visit his website.

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