BackCountry group ‘jazzes’ up Bridgeport students

BackCountry Jazz recently rocked Greenwich’s St. Bede’s Chapel as the ensemble awarded new instruments to five Bridgeport public school students, and put on a show.

The evening concert and reception featured the Greenwich High School Jazz Ensemble under the direction of John Yoon. They opened with Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night in Tunisia featuring guest jazz trumpeter, Wendell Brunious. The students are preparing for a trip to Cuba in April, inspiring the concert’s title.

BackCountry Jazz presented jazz greats Peter Washington on bass, Donald Vega, piano, Herlin Riley and Victor Lewis, drums, Wendell Brunious, trumpet, along with music director and tenor saxophonist, Bennie Wallace, and surprise guest vocalist Rene Marie. Among the tunes performed were, Jerome Kern’s I’m Old Fashioned and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. Ms. Marie sang a Latin version of Cole Porter’s My Heart Belongs To Daddy. Drummers Herlin Riley and Victor Lewis were featured on Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo’s Afro-Cuban classic Tin Tin Deo. And Ms. Marie returned to the stage with an elegant version of Ray Noble’s ballad The Very Thought Of You. To end the night, the musicians and Ms. Marie rocked the house with sensuous blues.

Five Bridgeport public school students from the BackCountry Jazz summer music camp came on stage to be awarded new instruments as part of the organization’s educational outreach program.

For information on BackCountry Jazz music outreach programs and upcoming events, visit

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