In what promises to be a memorable and moving concert, jazz greats Chuck Mangione, Lew Soloff, and Pat LaBarbera will join musicians from the Eastman School of Music to pay tribute to the life and musical legacy of saxophonist Gerry Niewood.
The event, at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, is a benefit to establish a permanent scholarship in his memory. The Gerry Niewood Memorial Scholarship Fund will support a deserving undergraduate student pursuing a major in jazz studies and performance at the Eastman School of Music.
Mr. Niewood was a prominent jazz saxophonist and Eastman graduate who had a long association with composer, bandleader, and flugelhorn player Mangione, also an Eastman alumnus. Mr. Niewood’s diverse career included work as a freelance musician and recording artist who played the soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones as well as the flute, alto and bass flutes, piccolo, and clarinet. At the time of his death last February, he was on his way to perform with Mangione’s band in Buffalo.
Mr. Niewood also often performed with Soloff, a trumpet player and also an Eastman graduate, and LaBarbera, a saxophonist and native of Mt. Morris, during the course of his career.
The Oct. 14 program will include arrangements of some of Mr. Niewood’s own works, including a suite of 10 never-recorded compositions. Titled “Treasures from the ‘Attic’,” the work consists of original music found in Mr. Niewood’s studio by his widow and by drummer and arranger Rich DeRosa. The piece will feature a tenor saxophone solo performed by Adam Niewood, Mr. Niewood’s son and a rising star on the New York City jazz scene.
Other works on the program that were written by Mr. Niewood include “Crystal Clear,” arranged by Dave Rivello and performed by the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble, and “Listen to Your Heart,” arranged by Bill Dobbins and performed by the Eastman Jazz Ensemble.
Mr. Niewood’s friendship and long association with Mangione started in childhood as both schoolmates and fellow band musicians. When Mr. Niewood opted to enroll in the Eastman School after getting a degree in industrial relations from the University of Buffalo, he played lead alto sax in the Eastman Jazz Ensemble under Mangione.
Mr. Niewood went on to tour with Mangione’s bands but also performed with such artists as Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Simon and Garfunkel, Judy Collins, Thad Jones, Gil Evans, and Sinead O’Connor. He can also be heard on sound tracks to the movies A Bronx Tale, When Harry Met Sally, Annie, and others.
Though he had made his home in New Jersey for more than three decades, in recent years Mr. Niewood had performed in Rochester with guitarist and Eastman School instructor Bob Sneider. In 2007, he joined Mangione and many of the original performers for a recreation of the legendary Friends and Love concert with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, which was originally presented and taped in Eastman Theatre in 1970.
Tickets to the “Eastman Celebrates the Musical Legacy of Gerry Niewood” concert are $12 to $45 (discounts with UR or student ID) and available at the Rochester Philharmonic Box Office, 108 East Ave.; by phone (585) 454-2100; or online at esm.rochester.edu/concerts .
Those interested in making a contribution to the Gerry Niewood Memorial Scholarship Fund can contact the Eastman School of Music, (585) 274-1040, visit www.esm.rochester.edu/support/how.php; or send a check payable to the Eastman School of Music to: Eastman School of Music, Office of Development-Gerry Niewood Scholarship, 26 Gibbs St., Rochester, NY 14604.
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Wednesday, October 14
Eastman Celebrates the Musical Legacy of Gerry Niewood. Eastman Jazz Ensemble and New Jazz Ensemble, directed by Bill Dobbins and Dave Rivello, with guests Chuck Mangione, Lew Soloff, Pat LaBarbera, and Adam Niewood.
Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 60 Gibbs St.
Tickets: $12 to $45 (discounts with UR and student ID); available at the Rochester Philharmonic Box Office, 108 East Ave.; by phone (585) 454-2100; or online at esm.rochester.edu/concerts