Date:   11/25/2005

A Thanksgiving Living Room Performance at Thrasher

Legendary guitarist, Gene Bertoncini, joins vocalist, Janet Planet, and composer/pianist, John Harmon as they celebrate their newly released cd, “Just Above A Whisper” at a special Thanksgiving holiday performance of smooth jazz at Thrasher Opera House in Green Lake, on Friday, November 25 at 7:30 p.m.  Accompanying them will be New York City bassist, Ike Sturm and drummer, Danny Lueck.

 

Gene Bertoncini is one of the pre-eminent jazz guitarists’ active today.  His fluid technique and lyricism have won him international praise and accolades as the “Segovia of jazz.”  An eloquent and versatile improviser, Mr. Bertoncini has been heard with an extraordinary range of jazz greats, including performances and recordings with Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, Wayne Shorter, Hebert Laws and Paul Desmond among others, as well as such distinguished singers as Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Nancy Wilson, Vic Damone and Edye Gorme. A prolific and popular studio musician he also performed for two years when Johnny Carson hosted the Tonight Show.

 

Among his many highly acclaimed releases include the striking CD, Body and Soul, and Acoustic Romance which reached the top ten of the jazz play lists.  Jazziz Magazines’s March, 2004 issue named it number #1 of the top twenty acoustic guitar CD’s.  His most recent CD, Quiet Now, was released in March 2005

 

John Harmon, accomplishment jazz pianist and one of America’s busiest composers earned a Wisconsin Artist Fellowship in 2001 and the prestigious Jazziz award in 1998. His significant contributions to music education and culture over a sustained period of time are recognized by the Wisconsin Music Educators Association’s 1999 Distinguished Service Award and the Fox Valley Arts Council’s Renaissance Award  in 2000.  More recently, John received an honorary doctorate of Fine Arts degree from Lawrence University in June 2005 and was made a fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters in July 2005.  These are the latest of many accolades that have marked a professional life deeply involved with both music and teaching.


Harmon’s recent acclaimed recordings include a solo piano album of his own compositions, Rite of Passage (Stellar); works for symphony orchestra and wind ensemble, Bobby Shew - the Music of John Harmon (Seabreeze); scorings of his original songs for voice and chamber orchestra, Strings Attached (Stellar); standards and original compositions on An Evening of Jazz with the John Harmon Trio (Klavier) and with singer Janet Planet, More Beautiful than Planned (Stellar) and “Just Above A Whisper” with Bertoncini and Janet.

 

Janet Planet has been paying her dues and studying the craft of singing for over two decades, steadily building a career that began with a high school talent show performance.  As the past century closed and this one began, music critics have noted her arrival as an accomplished artist.
One concert reviewer recently wrote:  "Planet has amply fulfilled her great promise and may now be included among the top half dozen or so female jazz singers."  In 1998, Jazziz magazine hailed her a one of the Voices of the New Jazz Culture.

Planet has opened for legends such as Jackie and Roy, George Benson, and her mentor Nancy King, and shared the stage with many other accomplished jazz artists including Ellis Marsalis, Gene Bertoncini, and Marian McPartland.  A busy concert schedule has taken her to performing arts centers, opera houses, colleges, universities, jazz festivals and jazz clubs across the USA.

Producer, recording artist for numerous years Janet has served as a session artist for commercial music project for television and radio.  She founded Janet Planet Enterprises, Inc. in 1986 and co-founded Stellar Sound Productions in 1995, the latter a recording label that has consistently earned praise from reviewers for both exceptional artistic content and high production values.  In 1999, she also co-launched Steel Moon Recording Studio which she owns and operates with her husband, saxophonist/composer, Tom Washatka.

Ike Sturm is a bassist and composer based in New York focusing on the presentation of original music. He leads a 10-piece ensemble in collaborative music and visual art concerts with his sister, clarinetist and artist Madeline Sturm. He recently was named the Assistant Director of Music for the Jazz Ministry at Saint Peter’s Church in Manhattan, internationally regarded as the “Jazz Church,” where he performs and composes original music for weekly jazz services.

He has performed with Gene Bertoncini, Bobby McFerrin, Maria Schneider, Kenny Wheeler and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. 

 

Danny Lueck began playing drums at age 10 and became a club-playing musician by ninth grade. Having received a Bachelor of Music degree in percussion performance from the University of Wisconsin in 1998, Danny moved to the Dallas area to pursue a Master's in Jazz Studies at University of North Texas. “He’s a fabulous drummer and we’re thrilled he could join us,” says Planet.

 

“Thanksgiving is the time of year where people get together to give thanks, instead of worrying to buy presents and all the pressures of other holidays,” Planet said.  “Under those circumstances, it sets an atmosphere for musicians to be relaxed and do what I like to call ‘the living room session’ ….You’re together and then make the music, as opposed to making the music and just happening to be together.  John & I have performed at in that ‘living room’ atmosphere at Thrasher before, and are really looking forward to returning again, only this time, with Gene, Ike and Danny.”

 

Tickets for this special holiday performance are available at the Thrasher office, Knowledge Emporium, Green Lake State Bank (Green Lake); Ripon Drug, Pick ‘N Save (Ripon); and Twister (Princeton); or by calling (920)294-4279.  Online tickets at www.thrasheroperahouse.com.

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