On Thursday, February 29, at 7:30 p.m., Bardo Arts Center will be a stop on the North American tour of SING AND SWING: Our American Songbook. Put on by Jazz at Lincoln Center Presents, the production is a partnership between composers Bria Skonberg and Benny Benack III. “Initially,” says Benack, “the main thrust of the tour was a project where Bria and I could co-lead together as two singing trumpeters, able to seamlessly switch off between vocal duets, trumpet duos and supporting each other as a horn while the other sings. The idea of highlighting some of the great ‘duet’ partnerships in jazz lent itself to this idea… From there, it became clear the ‘Great American Songbook’ would be the third star of the show, as we wanted to highlight some familiar classic songs from that canon that people of all generations recognize and enjoy.”
Benack is an Emmy-nominated trumpeter and vocalist who has performed internationally and recorded four well-received albums: One of a Kind, A Lot of Livin’ to Do, Season’s Swingin’ Greetings and, most recently, Third Time’s the Charm. Also a trumpeter and vocalist, Skonberg is a winner of The Juno Award who has performed with greats such as Jon Batiste, Wycliffe Gordon, U2, Sun Ra Arkestra and some of the nation’s top symphony orchestras. The duo will be joined on stage by Jocelyn Gould on guitar, Mathis Picard on piano, Mark Lewandowski on bass and Charles Goold on drums. The show will feature classics like “In a Mellow Tone” by Duke Ellington, “Banana Split for My Baby” by Louis Prima and Keely Smith, and “I’m Glad There is You” by Sarah Vaughan and Clifford Brown.
Skonberg says the hardest part of designing the repertoire was choosing what not to play. “It took Benny and I about five minutes to come up with a long list of favorite artists and songs we had in common,” she says. “The music is both thrilling and grounding at the same time. We hope that by sharing the stories of these great American songs and artists we can express and process a rich tapestry of emotions and will bring the listeners a deep sense of joy.”
The WCU Bardo Arts Center is located at 199 Centennial Drive, Cullowhee. Visit arts.wcu.edu/sing-swing to learn more about the event and purchase tickets. All of Bardo Arts Center’s 2023-2024 Performance Hall tickets are available at arts.wcu.edu/tickets.