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Allison Mann Returns with a Program of American Jazz Classics

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by Nat Frothingham

 

Photo courtesy of Allison Mann
Photo courtesy of Allison Mann

In what promises to be an evening of pure pleasure and sentiment, local singer Allison Mann will team up with producer Colin McCaffrey and five other musicians on October 18 to offer a program of popular jazz favorites from the so-called Great American Songbook era of the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

What composers and songs come to mind when we think of that era? Think of George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter and Jerome Kern. Think of such enduring hits as “Night and Day,” “All the Things You Are,” “Pennies from Heaven” and “Embraceable You.”

The Favorite Tunes concert, at Christ Church in Montpelier, will celebrate Mann’s return to the performance stage after an absence of 10 years. To begin at 7 p.m., the event is part of a series that will also include a January 31 concert featuring lyricist Dorothy Fields and a third concert on March 28, featuring Vocal Harmonies.

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McCaffrey will record all three concerts live. Next summer, the best numbers from the performances will be assembled into a CD..

Mann was all of seven when she first started singing in the junior choir at the Universalist Church at Southold, New York, a community way out on Long Island’s North Fork. She went on to sing in choruses in high school and college. “In high school I taught myself to play guitar,” she told The Bridge. “I played folk music. I was in a duo.”

“I came to Vermont in 1987, and that was the first time I was part of a jazz ensemble, the Jazz Hooligans,” she recalled.

While a student at Marlboro College, she sang under the direction of Blanche Moyse, the longtime director of the New England Bach Festival. Mann has sharp memories of Moyse as a woman who had a passion for music and who demanded excellence.

In addition to Mann on vocals, the October 18 concert will feature McCaffrey on guitar, John Rivers on bass, Geza Carr on drums, Tom Cleary on piano, Chris Peterman on sax, and special guest Elliot Burg on trumpet.

Talking about how the show will be put together, Mann said, “There will be stuff for piano and vocals and a trio for piano, voice and bass. Then the sax and trumpet can make up a quintet. And four or five songs will have the whole band.”

With these words at the top of the poster announcing the concert, Mann has dedicated the concert series: “For My Mother and Father—The Best Songs of Their Times.”

Mann’s father, Russell Mann, age 91, and mother, Joan Mann, age 85, will be traveling up from Long Island for the concert. That will give the event two measures of significance: Mann’s comeback as a jazz artist, and the presence of her parents.

Russell Mann flew a P-47 fighter during World War II. He was shot down over France, captured by the Germans, and sent to a prison camp, where he remained for nine months. He endured difficult conditions, including a long winter march near the end of the war. When he got back home he was malnourished and underweight—but luckier than the millions of other soldiers who lost their lives in the conflict.

Joan Mann met Russell when they were both in their teens. After high school she wanted to become a doctor, but her family couldn’t afford the education. She trained for the Cadet Nurse Corps instead. She finished her training but never went into the service. Instead she worked as a civilian nurse and became a mother. She later got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and was certified in special education. She worked for many years as a school nurse and teacher.

Speaking about her mother and father and plans for them to attend the October 18 concert, Allison Mann admitted that this was a big emotional moment in her life. She noted that her parents have been married for 66 years.

Russell Mann flew a P-47 fighter during World War II. He was shot down over France, captured by the Germans, and sent to a prison camp, where he remained for nine months. He endured difficult conditions, including a long winter march near the end of the war. When he got back home he was malnourished and underweight—but luckier than the millions of other soldiers who lost their lives in the conflict.


Photo courtesy of Allison Mann
Joan Mann. Photo courtesy of Allison Mann

Photo courtesy of Allison Mann
Russell Mann. Photo courtesy of Allison Mann

Joan Mann met Russell when they were both in their teens. After high school she wanted to become a doctor, but her family couldn’t afford the education. She trained for the Cadet Nurse Corps instead. She finished her training but never went into the service. Instead she worked as a civilian nurse and became a mother. She later got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and was certified in special education. She worked for many years as a school nurse and teacher.

Speaking about her mother and father and plans for them to attend the October 18 concert, Allison Mann admitted that this was a big emotional moment in her life. She noted that her parents have been married for 66 years.