The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra performs at Sherri Lee’s house for “Evening Under the Stars.” That’s band leader Vance Thompson on the trumpet in the back.
For years, when speaking of arts organizations in Knoxville, people have referred to “the big four,” meaning the Knoxville Symphony, the Knoxville Opera, the Clarence Brown Theatre and the Knoxville Museum of Art.
I definitely think it’s now time to make that “the big five.” The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra needs to be included. The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra is a 17-piece big band with five saxophones, four trombones, four trumpets, guitar, piano, bass and drums. Some of East Tennessee’s top professional musicians are in the group which performs a wide variety of jazz styles.
Founded in 1999 by trumpeter, arranger and composer Vance Thompson, the band has appeared at jazz festivals in the United States and Europe, released four critically acclaimed CDs and presented scores of concerts, many featuring world-renowned guest artists.
Another big plus? Its annual major fundraiser, “Evening Under the Stars,” is one of the best social and musical events of the year. Held at supporter Sherri Lee’s lovely waterfront home, it is an auction-free event for a change. (Yay!) You simply attend, have cocktails under a beautiful clear tent, enjoy a delicious dinner by one of Knoxville’s best caterers and listen to the fantastic music of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra. And there’s even a dance floor that is crowded from the first number to the last.
The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra could benefit by some gender diversity. But, other than that, it is a gem.
Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s new music director Aram Demirjian and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero attended the festive event.
Sheena McCall is chair of the board of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra. She’s here with well-known Knoxville keyboardist Marcus Shirley.
From left, Phyllis Nichols, Aram Demirjian and Vance Thompson.
Dr. Jan Henley and John Diasmore.
Loved these outfits! Carolyn Lawrence, left, and Barbara Crist.
My friend, Sara Rose, and my husband, Alan Carmichael. The Moxley Carmichael table was a fun one!
Gil and Edie Volk.
Our hostess, Sherri Lee, left, with Mayor Rogero.
Here’s the scene. Madhouse mingling. Everyone was in such a good mood.
Spinach puffs were passed.
Karen and Harvey White with Bill Arant, at right.
From left, Jim Clayton, Michell Witt and Jay and Marga McBride.
Joan Cronan, center, with Elisabeth Rukeyser and Bob Lederer.
Dick and Ann Ince.
Zucchini and goat cheese tarts were another appetizer.
Charles Fels, left, and Jerome Melson.
Connie Steele, left, with Mayor Rogero and Ann Ince.
From left, Peter Acly, Ellen Robinson and Rosa Mar.
Ann Ince, left, with Cindy Hassil.
These petite crab cakes with lemon aioli were my favorite appetizer.
Soon, it was time to be seated. Mark Hill, right, with John and Mary Lynn Majors.
At the Moxley Carmichael table, from left, Harold Hicks, Jim Nichols, Carmen Hicks and Phyllis Nichols.
At the Merchant & Gould table, John Winemiller and Aram Demirjian.
At the same table, Thomas Dillon, left, and Rob Collignon.
Evelyn and Tom Shaw.
Caroline Smith, left, and Betsey Bush. Salad was arugula with blueberries, toasted almonds and shaved parmesan and honey thyme lemon vinaigrette.
The herb roasted tenderloin with caramelized onion and blue cheese crumbles drew rave reviews. I personally loved the roasted Brussels sprouts.
Dessert was a lovely trio of treats.
Time to hit the floor!
It was a warm evening and Tom Shaw had a great idea!
Seated, Dr. Susan Newman and Rick Giecek. Standing, from left: Marga and Jay McBride, Glo Klarich, Aram Demirjian, Sharon and Dr. Bill Laing, Michell Witt and Jim Clayton.
Glo Klarich, left, with caterer Nancy Kendrick of Creative Catering of Knoxville.
Great job, everybody.