The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jun 14, 2013

Honoring his musical legends: Josh Rzepka’s “Trumpet Genesis” coming to Akron Civic Theatre

Posted by rdurbin

Maybe it’s a tradition among musicians, but frequently music directors, choir directors, musical comedy directors, and the like will provide a certain kind of spotlight tribute to the people who have helped them or been significant in their artistic lives.

If it’s not a practice, it wouldn’t hurt if it became one.

Jazz and classical trumpeter Josh Rzepka is doing that kind of thing, but in quite a grand and entertaining way. In what he described in a telephone interview as a project that will “involve nearly all past trumpet training,” Rzepka has put together “Trumpet Genesis,” which will be performed for one night only in Akron Civic Theatre, a Knight Arts grantee.

"Trumpet Genesis" album cover. Photo courtesy of Josh Rzepka

The show will be a nine-member jazz ensemble featuring four trumpet players and a five-piece rhythm section that will perform arrangements of the works of musical artists like Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown, Woody Shaw and Stevie Wonder. Maybe even more importantly, there will be three new pieces by Rzepka himself along with four other arrangements that he had previously created.

To help him pull off the performance, he'll be joined by trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, a teacher of Rzepka who played for luminaries like Ray Charles and Duke Ellington. According to Rzepka, his presence and willingness to be part of the “Trumpet Genesis” project helped to move the whole thing forward.

Trumpeter Jack Schantz, whom Rzepka says he must have heard over “200 times live” and whom he saw perform “every Monday for over a year,” will also share the stage. Also playing, according to press release materials, will be Kenny Davis, whose first jazz student according to Rzepka was Jackie Warren (who will also be appearing by playing piano), and whose last student was Rzepka himself. Filling out the trumpet section is Ian Indorf.

It’s quite a lineup and should provide some marvelous jazz solos and ensembles.

Filling in the rhythm section will be, Jackie Warren and David Thomas on piano; Peter Dominquez on bass; Ron Godale on drums;  and Sammy DeLeon on other percussion.

The main players have worked together before, including doing other musical gigs in the area. That makes rehearsal a much shorter and easier process, according to Rzepka. These are “the best cats that you can find,” he said. They “can do a run-through and that’s it.”

Josh Rzepka. Photo courtesy of Akron Civic Theatre Josh Rzepka. Photo courtesy of Akron Civic Theatre

That kind of ease of performance will no doubt lend a nice quality to the evening-long performance. Helping the ambiance will be the intimacy of artists and audience close together on the main stage of the Akron Civic Theatre. There will be seating for about 200 people, Rzepka says, and each will have a close-up view of these special jazz musicians.

Josh Rzepka’s “Trumpet Genesis” will perform at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 20 at the Akron Civic Theatre, 182 S. Main St., Akron; 330-253-2488; Tickets are $25.

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