Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra delivers 'The Gospel Truth'

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Entertainment,Music,Emily Cary

Jim Carroll, alto sax virtuoso and artistic director of the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra, is excited about the ensemble's program, "The Gospel Truth," an evening of American music featuring legendary jazz pianist and organist Bobby Floyd. While driving to Shenandoah Community College to perform last weekend with Doc Severinson, he chatted about the MJO's concert Sunday in Merchant Hall at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas.

"Bobby plays the Hammond B-3 organ, which is the organ of choice by jazz musicians," Carroll said. "We're putting one in Merchant Hall for the concert, so he will be in top form. The MJO musicians are the finest jazz professionals in the Washington area. Many of them are either veterans or students of the Big Band era. Along with these great players, we also feature vocalist Darden Purcell, a member of the GMU jazz voice faculty. The program is filled with crowd pleasers like 'Amazing Grace,' so you can be sure the audience will respond enthusiastically to Bobby."

Floyd is based in Columbus, Ohio, where he performs with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, maintains a private studio and has taught at Ohio State University. In addition to touring with his own trio, he has toured and performed for many years with such artists as Ray Charles, Rusty Bryant, Hank Marr, Nancy Wilson and Dionne Warwick.

Floyd's four CDs are considered jazz classics. Floyd has also appeared on jazz albums with other artists. He continues to tour throughout the U.S. and Canada with symphony, chamber and jazz orchestras. On Friday, he and Carroll will present a jazz clinic at George Mason University, where Carroll is director of jazz studies.

If you go
Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra
» Where: George Mason University's Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas
» When: 8 p.m. Saturday
» Info: $28 to $44; 888-945-2468; hyltoncenter.org

Like Floyd, Carroll is a study in perpetual motion. Early in his career he was a member of Woody Herman's Thundering Herd, so he joyfully carries on the legacy of the Big Band era. His career has taken him to the Royal Albert Hall in London, Carnegie Hall, the White House and the Apollo Theater. He also has worked with many top artists including Michael Jackson, Nancy Wilson, Maynard Ferguson and Billy Taylor. A charter member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, Carroll performed with them until joining the GMU faculty.

When he is not teaching, conducting the MJO and planning the band's next event, he is sharing the legacy of jazz with others. Last year he took his GMU concert band to China, where band members were treated like rock stars by Chinese students who fell in love with Big Band music. This year his GMU jazz ensemble plans to record a live concert. An ongoing project is Jazz for Justice, a program to raise funds for the poor who cannot afford an attorney.

"Our dream is to serve the community by providing pro bono work to help the needy," he said. "But for this week, we will focus on the wonderful gospel program in Merchant Hall, an incredible theater with magnificent acoustics. The value of the arts stands out when audiences express their appreciation of shows like this. As soon as the music begins, they will be clapping to the rhythm and tapping their feet."

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Emily Cary

Special to The Washington Examiner
The Washington Examiner