Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra returns with live concerts

The Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra (HCJO), a professional jazz band based on the West Michigan Lakeshore, is returning with live concerts for 2021-22. 

The band will be performing several concerts this season after enjoying a triumphant return to the stage with the Holland Symphony Orchestra at the Pops at the Pier concert in July.

For the 2021-22 concert season, the band will feature several guest conductors following the departure of founding Music Director Jordan VanHemert, who accepted a teaching position at Columbus State University in Georgia. 

Four major concerts are planned, in addition to several smaller concerts using varied instrumentation and personnel. Mark Wells, a music teacher in the East Grand Rapids Public School District, will open the season with the band at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26 at the Park Theatre in Holland. Admission is $10.

Wells has been teaching instrumental music since 2001. He currently teaches at East Grand Rapids Middle and High schools, and plays lead trombone in the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra and Big Band Nouveau, of which he is also a co-leader and co-founder. 

Also joining the HCJO for the September performance will be Stafford Hunter on trombone. Hunter is a 21-year veteran of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and recently was appointed a Visiting Professor at Hope College in Holland. He has performed with Tony Bennett, Roy Hargrove, Donald Byrd Dance Troupe, Cab Calloway Orchestra, Joss Stone, Orrin Evans, the Mingus Big Band, Lauryn Hill, and many others.

The group most recently recorded an all-new album with saxophone artist Derek Brown, and “All Figured Out” is receiving rave reviews. Recorded in February 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic, the album features Brown as a soloist on tenor saxophone, as well as many members of the HCJO and the Hope College music department. 

It is Brown’s first Big Band album recording. Brown will be joining the band this winter to celebrate the release of the album in a live performance.

Founded in 2018, the HCJO has promoted its core mission and values of “Advocate, Educate, Perform” through high-energy performances, clinics, and presentations. Members of the group have performed with many outstanding bands and musicians, and have enjoyed careers spanning many decades of performing and teaching. 

More information on the band can be found at www.hollandcjo.org.


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