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New England Jazz Ensemble

The NEJE’s latest CD (“It’s a Grand Night for Swinging!”) features guest artists John Abercrombie, Giacomo Gates, and Ali Ryerson with arrangements by Walt Gwardyak, John Mastroianni, and Jeff Holmes

It was created in 1991 by trumpeter, Mike Jones. Walt Gwardyak, piano player, has been the music director from the beginning. The band was conceived as a weekly rehearsal band and a forum for new compositions. Compositions by Gwardyak, Mastroianni, Holmes, Merz and Person and others formed the band’s book.

In 1994, the band received an NEA grant to travel to the 10th annual jazz festival in Corinth, Greece. Following this trip, Gwardyak wrote the piece “Blouzo” for the band with extended solos for the trombone section.

The New England Jazz Ensemble has recorded 5 CDs, including a live recording at the Pittsfield Jazz Festival in 2005 and a Christmas CD featuring the Duke Ellington Nutcracker and other holiday jazz recorded in 2003. The first and second CDs, as well as the 2005 Pittsfield CD, feature original arrangements and compositions by the band’s composers.

The band has performed with numerous guest artists including, Thomas Chapin, Phil Wilson, Dick Johnson, John Allmark, Shawn Monteiro, George Masso, Art Baron, Nick Brignola, Gerry Neiwood, Ali Ryerson, and Giacomo Gates.

The New England Jazz Ensemble has played in numerous jazz festivals, including the Greater Hartford Jazz Festival, as well as eight consecutive performances of the Ellington Nutcracker with the Hartford Conservatory dance department.