MOUNT VERNON — The Knox Community Jazz Orchestra will get the holiday season off to a joyful, toe-tapping start with “Swing into Christmas,” a concert to be held Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Memorial Building Theater in Mount Vernon.
Accompanied by gifted vocalists Alison Cline and Brad Fox — and helped along by a visit from Santa Claus — the 20-member big band will perform a full program of holiday classics and seasonal favorites, in well-loved jazz arrangements. Tickets may be purchased in advance at First-Knox National Bank or Paragraphs Bookstore in Mount Vernon, and online at MTVarts.com. Tickets will also be available at the door. Children of 10 and under will be admitted free.
“This is music that everybody knows and everybody loves,” said band leader and trumpeter Ted Buehrer. “Whether it’s ‘Sleigh Ride,’ ‘Deck the Halls,’ ‘Winter Wonderland,’ or ‘The First Noel,’ these are numbers that have come to embody the Christmas spirit, and the warmth and zest of winter, for every generation. We’ve chosen arrangements by some of the greats, like Sammy Nestico and Gordon Goodwin.”
Cline, who has performed with the jazz orchestra since it was founded in 2017, will sing five numbers, including the striking Diana Krall version of “Jingle Bells,” the Irving Berlin standard “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” as sung by Ella Fitzgerald, and the beloved Vince Guaraldi tune “Christmas Time Is Here,” made famous by “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Joining the band for the first time will be Fox, singing numbers including “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” as recorded by Tony Bennett with Count Basie, “It Must’ve Been Ol’ Santa Claus,” as sung by Harry Connick Jr., and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” in the Michael Buble version.
Speaking of Santa, the band expects him to drop by and say hello during the “Swing into Christmas” concert. “Santa is definitely a fan of big band music, or so I’ve heard,” said Buehrer.
Buehrer, a music professor at Kenyon College and conductor of the college’s jazz ensemble, started the Knox Community Jazz Orchestra as a way of reviving a jazz band tradition in the county that dates back to the Riley Norris Orchestra of the 1960s, the Bob Bechtel Big Band of the 1980s, and the Colonial City Big Band that followed it. Now in its second season, the Community Jazz Orchestra has won an enthusiastic following in performances at Ariel Foundation Park and the Dan Emmett Festival. “Swing into Christmas” will be its second Christmas concert.