Oct 01, 2012 - Tommy Poole Quartet on October 7th
For Immediate Release
Contact: Bettie Downing, (918) 281-8609
Tommy Poole -- saxophonist, composer, arranger, and director of Jazz Studies at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah -- believes that the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame “is not only very important for jazz and the jazz community, but for art in general.” And for quite a while now, he’s been backing up that sentiment with action.
Poole’s October 7th show will mark the third time he’s led his own group in a concert at the Jazz Depot. However, he’s also taken that stage many more times to lend musical support to headliners other than himself.
“I may be going on 20 times now,” he muses. “That might be a little high; it’s probably more like 15. But I’ve played there quite a bit.
“For this show,” he adds, “I’m going to have my quartet with a couple of extra guests: Cynthia Simmons, who’s performed at the Jazz Hall several times, and Bobby Brewer, the jazz guitar teacher at NSU. I think this will be his first time to play the Jazz Hall; he just moved to northeastern Oklahoma.”
In addition to pianist Scott McQuade, another Jazz Depot favorite, Poole’s quartet includes a couple of his fellow musicians from the NSU jazz faculty. They are bassist Mikel Combs and drummer Jared Johnson, both of whom teach as well as play.
“This is the same quartet that played at [the Jazz Hall’s recent] Jazzfest, but I couldn’t get Scott, because he was already playing with Rebecca Ungerman,” explains Poole. “I ended up using Bobby Brewer on guitar, instead of Scott on piano, and it worked out pretty well, so I have them both this time around.”
Poole’s been leading his own bands since his high school days in San Antonio, Texas. As an undergraduate at the University of Texas in Austin, he began working summers as a musician with the Walt Disney organization, an experience he found invaluable.
“My first summer I was at the Magic Kingdom in Anaheim, and then they put together a Duke Ellington tribute band at the American Gardens Theatre in Epcot Center at Orlando, Florida, and I was in that,” he recalls. “The Disney groups were really all college kids, playing during their summers off, and it was a win-win for both the parks and the students. To this day, I’ll see names and faces that I played with. A couple of the trombone players have been with Jazz at Lincoln Center, and a lot of us teach at the college level now.
“With Disney, we got to play with a whole gamut of artists, from people on the commercial pop side, like Anthony Newley, Eartha Kitt, and Marilyn McCoo, all the way to people on the jazz side – Bobby Shew, Maynard Ferguson, Pete Christliebs.”
That training helped him get a music job immediately upon his graduation, playing in bands for passengers booked on the Princess Cruise Lines. There, he continued to work with a number of big-name entertainers. In the course of the job, he also found a temporary home that was far away from his native state.
“From time to time, the ships would go in and out of Puerto Rico, and I really got to like Puerto Rico,” he says. “So, in 2000, instead of going back to Texas, I stayed and lived in Puerto Rico for a while.”
One of the things that came out of that experience was an original song called “P.R. Strut.” Poole plans to perform it with his group at Saturday’s concert. Describing the number as “kind of a funky cha-cha,” Poole says it’ll be part of a show that will include “a fair number of tunes with a Brazilian feeling,” along with some new arrangements of beloved standards.
“We’ve got a nice version of `Night and Day,’ a little bit of a different arrangement,’ he says. “Cynthia sounds great on it.”
The Tommy Poole Quartet, with guests Cynthia Simmons and Bobby Brewer, is set to take the stage Sunday, Oct. 7, at 5 p.m. at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot 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. Refreshments will be available for purchase.
The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2012 Autumn 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 preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.