'Ladies in Jazz celebrates the Big Band Era

GREENFIELD, MASS. — The "Ladies in Jazz" concert series at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center celebrates the Big Band Era with a dance concert at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Series producer and vocalist Samirah Evans will be joined by pianist/vocalist Ellen Cogen for two sets of music consisting of some of the best jazz music from the mid-20th century, accompanied by John Mason (guitar), George Kaye (bass) and Claire Arenius (drums). Period dress is encouraged and the area in front of the stage will be open for dancing.

Evans says the idea for a Big Band-themed show stemmed from her performance with the Amherst Jazz Orchestra at an Ella Fitzgerald Centennial tribute produced by Cogen earlier this year. "I kept hearing people murmuring, `why can't we do this all the time?'" said Evans. "Ellen put together a magical evening in honor of Ella, and we hope to recapture that enchantment in the Arts Block Ballroom."

Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online at hawksandreed.com. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. .The Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center is located at 289 Main St. in Greenfield, Mass.

Ellen Cogen is classically trained as a pianist and cellist. She performs classical, opera and jazz music throughout New England, specializing in the "classical cabaret" music of Kurt Weill, Eric Satie, and Arnold Schoenberg, among others. She has recorded three albums: "Necessary Mystery" (an album of original works); "Listen To The Moonlight" (jazz standards), and "Chord of Longing" (a blend of jazz, classical, pop, and originals with John Mason). Cogen is also a faculty member at Holyoke Community College and Westfield State University and music director at the Easthampton Congregational Church.

Since relocating from New Orleans following hurricane Katrina, Samirah Evans has been delighting audiences across the northeastern U.S., performing or sharing stages with the likes of Charles Neville, Sheila Jordan, Allman Brothers drummer, Jamoie, Donald Harrison, Jr., Duke Robillard, Dr. John, Wallace Roney, John Sheldon and Evelyn Harris. Her touring band, Samirah Evans and Her Handsome Devils, delivers swampy, soulful takes on jazz and blues classics as well originals; while other projects, such as the the George Kaye quintet "Porgy & Bess" project and her tribute to Nina Simone and Etta James in conjunction with Evelyn Harris, honor the musical and cultural roots of the music. Evans is a member of the visiting artist faculty at Williams College and a private vocal instructor, as well as the founder of the NOLABratts choir. See more at samirahevans.com.

"Ladies in Jazz" is a musical series developed and operated by Samirah Evans through her company, Silktone Productions. It is co-produced with The Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield MA. Each installment brings Evans together in concert with another female jazz vocalist or instrumentalist. The goal of the series is to introduce new women artists to audiences in western Massachusetts, and to attract more established women artists to the area. Previous guests have included Sheila Jordan, Evelyn Harris, Wanda Houston, Roberta Piket, Mary Ann


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