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John Allmark Jazz Orchestra at the Met Cafe

The Rhode Island big-band tradition thrives in its new home

The Met Cafe in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, hosts the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra on Monday nights       
Trumpeter/bandleader John Allmark, tenor saxophonist Jerry Vejmola and baritone saxophonist Austin Yancey
Bassist Bryan Rizzuto and keyboardist Jiri Nedoma perform with the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra
Trumpeter John Allmark and alto saxophonist Bob Bowlby
Alto saxophonist Bob Bowlby solos with the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra
In the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra, alto saxophonist Nigel Yancey digs a searing solo by tenor player Tucker Antell
The John Allmark Jazz Orchestra at the Met Cafe in Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Trumpeter John Allmark
Drummer Vinny Pagano powers the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra

Rhode Island’s big-band tradition began 49 years ago, one year later than the Monday-night series that Thad Jones and Mel Lewis started at the Village Vanguard in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

Drummer Duke Belaire inaugurated it in 1967 at the Cobblestone Tavern in East Providence, before settling in at nearby Bovi’s Tavern in 1969. On any given night in the vintage Belaire era, the band might have included saxophonists Greg Abate, Ted Casher, Dick Johnson and Art Pelosi, trombonist Hal Crook, pianist Mike Renzi and a young trumpeter named John Allmark. In 1999, Belaire passed the musical baton to Allmark, whose own fine Jazz Orchestra had been playing in various area venues since 1991.

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