Four extraordinary trombonists and an internationally renowned pianist are coming to Belleville on Saturday for a evening of smooth jazz at Eckert’s Summer Music Festival.
Trombonanza, a jazz quartet and combo, will perform a free concert from 7 to 9 p.m. at Eckert’s Country Store and Farm on Illinois 15. You might recognize the tall, dark-haired one. He’s Aaron Eckert, a former student of Tom Birkner, instrumental music director at Belleville West. Aaron, now 24, is a masters student at the Eastman School of Music, in Rochester, N.Y., where he is seeking a double degree in trombone and euphonium performance.
Other members of the quartet are:
Mark Kellogg, associate professor of trombone, euphonium and brass chamber music at Eastman School of Music. He is the principal trombone of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and a busy performance artist. He is also Aaron Eckert’s teacher.
James A Martin, director of the Webster (University) Wind Ensemble and Big Band and a member of the Webster Brass Quintet. He was the bass trombonist with the Buddy Rich Big Band 1985-87 and with the Orchestra del Maggio Musical of Florance, Italy, under Zubin Mehta 1989-90. He has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, the St. Louis Symphony and Opera Theatre of St. Louis.
Brendan Lanighan, a trombonist and educator from Buffalo, N.Y. He is a senior, completing his undergraduate studies in jazz performance and music education. He is a member of the Eastman Jazz Ensemble and the David Rivello Ensemble.
Both Eckert and Lanighan will be finalists in the International Jazz Trombone Festival in July in Valencia, Spain.
Also performing at Eckert’s will be Christopher D. Azzara, professor of music education at Eastman. He is an accomplished pianist, arranger, author and educator. He performs as a soloist and in various ensembles, including the Chris Azzara Quartet.
How did Eckert’s get such accomplished jazz musicians to perform at the family farm in Belleville?
“There’s a trombone convention in St. Louis,” said Carole Eckert, Aaron’s mother. “And we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have such great talents perform in Belleville?’”
Aaron Eckert is on break now, but he will return to his studies at Eastman next month.
“It’s always good to be home,” he said. “Whenever I come home I make a point go back to Belleville West and see my teacher (Tom Birkner). He’s the one who got me into jazz.”
Aaron wants to teach when he gets his master’s, “whether in the classroom or private lessons.” He got a taste of it last spring when as a student teacher. He was hooked.
Will he keep performing?
“Absolutely,” he said. “I like playing my horn so much I will always be performing.”
At a glance
What: Trombonanza jazz trombone quartet and combo
When: 7-9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Outdoors at Eckert’s Country Store and Farm on Illinois 15 in Belleville
Best advice: Bring a lawn chair