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Jun 01, 2014 - New Vocal-Jazz Act Sheridan Road Plays Jazz Depot Sunday

 

            The six-voice group known as Sheridan Road may be performing only the second engagement of its young life Sunday at the Jazz Depot, but if you're at all aware of the Tulsa music scene, chances are you know the name of at least one of its members.

            Currently the artistic director of the Signature Symphony at Tulsa Community College, Dr. Barry Epperley has been a musical force in town since 1977, when he moved back home after stints with both the Walt Disney Company and the Army and founded a chamber orchestra called the Tulsa Little Symphony. That group metamorphosed into the Oklahoma Sinfonia and the Signature Symphony, always with Epperley at the helm.

            Now, as he prepares for his final Signature Symphony concert on July 3, Epperley finds himself looking toward beginnings more than endings – and that's where Sheridan Road comes in.

            “You know,” he says, “I've always sung. I've always conducted. I've always played piano. But as the years go by and the arthritis sets in, I don't play as much as I did. This [Sheridan Road] is something that fascinates me a lot, and I'm thinking of two or three concerts a year, depending on how people respond to us.”

            All but one of the members of Sheridan Road, he notes, come from the Signature Symphony's 40-voice chorale – making it something of a Signature Symphony side project.

            “We got to singing together, maybe a little more than a year ago, and we said, `Well, that's kind of nice. Maybe we ought to do a concert or two.' So we did a thing in the Black Box theatre at PACE [Tulsa Community College's Performing Arts Center for Education], and sold it out – and we decided, `Let's keep this going. Let's look for some other places to go, and maybe do a CD down the road.'

            “I like the sound, I like the people, so here we are, doing a show at the Jazz Hall.”  

            In addition to Epperley, who jokes that he sings “basso grunto,” the group members are Jenn Green, Marla Patterson, Jennifer Wilson, Brian Wilson (unrelated to Jennifer), and Steve Raiford. For Sunday's concert, they'll be accompanied by a combo that includes pianist Rob Muraoka and veteran Tulsa bassist Jim Bates.

            The program, says Epperley, is “kind of eclectic,” encompassing rock 'n' roll, jazz, pop, and classic American standards.

            “We're opening with `How High the Moon,' a real tight arrangement, that's very close to the Les Paul and Mary Ford chart,” he says. “Marla does a jazz riff in the middle. Then we'll do Harold Arlen's `Let's Fall in Love,' Billy Joel's `New York State of Mind,' and a nice Ellington-Harry James piece, `I'm Beginning to See the Light.'

            “We'll also do an a cappella set, with four pieces, including a couple of Beatles things, `Michelle' and `Can't Buy Me Love.'  `Can't Buy Me Love' is taken from [the English a cappella group] the King's Singers, and it's very British, stiff upper lip, in a madrigal style. Then we'll do Billy Joel's `And So It Goes,' closing that little section with `Orange Colored Sky.' Jenn Green does an amazing solo on that.”

            Other numbers he expects Sheridan Road to perform Sunday include the Turtles' rock 'n' roll classic “Happy Together,” as well as the Tin Pan Alley chestnut “Everybody Loves My Baby.”

            “There'll be some solos with the combo in between,” he adds.  “Everybody's doing some solo work. It's really a nice package. I'm very pleased with it. And, of course, those guys supporting us are really good. Rob is one of the best jazz pianists I've run into, and he understands working with voices.”

            Epperley doesn't remember which one of the Sheridan Road voices gave the group its name, but he remembers how it happened.

            “We were sitting around going, `You know, let's be the Tulsa Singers, or let's be this, or that.' And then, someone brought in a picture of the big sign, before it was destroyed, for the bowling alley that was down at about 31st and Sheridan – Sheridan Lanes – and said, `How about Sheridan Road?' ”

            He laughs. “We thought, `Okay. That sounds fine. It'll do until we decide on something worse.' And now, we kind of like it.”     
            Sheridan Road is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, June 8, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street.

            Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, from www.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5. 

            The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2014 Summer Concert Series.

            The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form. 


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