Skip Spiro’s 10-piece Jazz/Blues Project will play a special concert in tribute to Dirk Fischer, the legendary College of the Canyons music department chief and jazz composer-arranger, at Vincenzo’s in Newhall on Wednesday, July 26 starting at 7 p.m.
Led by Spiro, a trumpet player and alumnus of Fischer’s Studio Jazz Ensemble big band at COC, the 10-Piece Jazz-Blues Project will perform one show only featuring original compositions and arrangements by Fischer, who headed the college’s Jazz Studies program from 1977-2005, when he (semi-)retired. Fischer died February 28, 2013 at age 88 (read his obituary here).
Spiro, a 33-year resident of the Santa Clarita Valley, played trumpet in the Studio Jazz Ensemble under Fischer’s direction for 25 years.
“Dirk not only was a personal friend and mentor to me but was also the musical heart and soul of our community for many years,” Spiro said. “Dirk inspired me to form my own jazz/blues group, and we continue to perform throughout the Los Angeles area to this day.”
Skip Spiro. Courtesy photo.
About Skip Spiro’s 10-Piece Jazz/Blues Project
Spiro’s 10-Piece Jazz/Blues Project performs the original works of some of the most creative composer/arrangers on the scene today. The sound of the group is an eclectic mix of the traditional big band era of the ’30s and ’40s, the burnin’ New York bebop scene of the ’50s and ’60s, the rock/funk/Latin fusion scene that came to follow, and forms yet to be defined.
“The beauty of this 10-piece format is that we’re big enough to produce a full ensemble sound, yet small enough to shine the spotlight on each of the players,” Spiro said. “So the focus of the group is on new original material (along with re-worked standards and such) designed to feature each of these great ensemble players as soloists in their own right.
“In the traditional sense, there are no sidemen in this band,” Spiro said. “Everyone is a featured soloist. This not only makes for a great musical experience but also for a very happy band. And of course judging from responses we receive night after night, that enthusiasm translates right out there to the audience!”
About Skip Spiro
Skip Spiro is originally from New York where the family musical gene was passed on from grandmother Rose (piano teacher) to father Stan (saxophonist and bandleader) to son Skip (trumpeter, flugelhornist, valve trombonist).
At the age of 13, Spiro was the youngest musician admitted to the Stan Kenton Summer Jazz Clinics at the University Of Connecticut. There, he was selected to play lead trumpet with the Herb Pomeroy Orchestra.
At the age of 14, Spiro put together his first band, a 15-piece jazz ensemble. Skip Spiro and The Rhythm Kings Orchestra went on to appear on “The Merry Mailman” and “Chubby Jackson” local New York television shows, as well as NBC’s “The Merv Griffin Show.”
Spiro continued as a very busy bandleader throughout his high school years, playing weddings, jazz clubs, high school proms and local beach clubs, appearing several times with legendary jazz trumpet player and big band leader Maynard Ferguson.
At the University of Massachusetts, Spiro once again formed a large jazz ensemble that became very much in demand touring the New England area and was regularly featured on the UMass radio station WMUA.
Over the years, Spiro has continued as an active musician on the West Coast, having appeared with Spiral Staircase, Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers, The Wolfman Jack Show, and Tina Turner.
Today’s current version of the Skip Spiro Band is in the form of his 10-Piece Jazz/Blues Project.
In addition to Spiro out front on trumpet, flugelhorn and valve trombone, the group is comprised of two trumpets, three saxes, trombone, piano, bass and drums.
“I’ve never had more fun with a band than I’m having now,” Spiro said. “Each of the players in the group is extremely accomplished as well as being a very exciting soloist. What’s most thrilling for me is that several are emerging as very talented composer/arrangers. And beyond that, they are just great people to work with. Wherever we appear, I believe that kind of group enthusiasm really comes through.”
Check out the group’s Facebook page for more pics, audio and video clips, as well as bio info and e-flyers promoting past performances and upcoming events.
Find Vincenzo’s at 24504 1/2 Lyons Avenue in Newhall. The phone is 661-259-6733.