Common Ground on the Hill started in Westminster in 1994 as a summer festival of American roots music. In recent years Common Ground’s offerings have been expanded to include summer music camps, workshops, and year-round concerts in Westminster and Baltimore. Organizations that present American roots music rarely include jazz, oddly enough, so I was pleasantly surprised when Common Ground announced that it was sponsoring jazz at two of six venues in downtown Westminster on July 7th, with Celtic, blues and “alt-grass” bands at the other four locations. | Read more>>
Here’s yet another Baltimore-area big band led by a retired music educator, in this case Thomas “Whit” Williams, who taught in Anne Arundel County schools for 37 years. Whit, who was honored by BJA with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, has been one of the most prominent sax players on the Baltimore scene since the mid-1950s. | Read more>>
In 2014 the idea of starting this big band came to trumpeter Ron Rolling after an inspiring performance by students from John Lamkin II’s B Sharp Academy. Rolling went to another trumpeter he had known since the mid-‘90s at Morgan State University, Terrance Gallop, saying, “We’ve got to put a band together to pass this on to the youth.” The trumpeters started the New World Outreach Jazz Orchestra (NWOJO), which became an incorporated non-profit, with both adult and youth big bands. | Read more>>
Norma Allman, the trombonist who led this band until her death last March at age 90, jokingly called it the Always Too Late band. But her son Mike, who also plays trombone, says that Never Too Late is a very apt name because the band gave several of its members the impetus to return to playing after long absences from their instruments. | Read more>>
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Shout out to longtime BJA member Todd Marcus on the release of another excellent album, On These Streets. Combining complex instrumental jazz, soulful vocals (courtesy of Eric Kennedy), and deep grooves, the music is as complicated and vibrant as the neighborhood it is written to reflect. | Read more>>