press release: The Madison Music Collective and Madison Opera are delighted to announce “Jazz @ the Opera Center,” an afternoon featuring Richie Cole and the Madison Alto Madness Orchestra on Sunday, January 8, 2017 at 2pm at The Margaret C. Winston Madison Opera Center in downtown Madison.
In celebration of Madison Opera's upcoming production of Charlie Parker's Yardbird by Daniel Schnyder, the afternoon starts with legendary saxophone player Richie Cole in conversation with Chris Wagoner, followed by two sets of this acclaimed musician with his Alto Madness Orchestra. In addition, Madison Opera Studio Artist Anna Polum will sing an excerpt from Charlie Parker's Yardbird.
Seating is limited. General admission tickets are $25 in advance only and may be purchased at www.madisonopera.org/support/events, or by calling Madison Opera at 608.238.8085. Light hors d'oeuvres will be served and a cash bar will be available.
About Richie Cole: Richie Cole started playing alto saxophone when he was 10 years old in his home town of Trenton, New Jersey. Influenced by Sonny Rollins and Charlie Parker, Cole’s talent and dedication won him a full scholarship from Downbeat Magazine to the Berklee School of Music in Boston.
His professional career began in 1969 when he joined the Buddy Rich Big Band. After stints with the Lionel Hampton Big Band and the Doc Severinsen Big Band, Cole formed his own quintet and toured worldwide, doing a great deal to popularize bebop and his own “Alto Madness” style in the 70s and early 80s.
Cole has performed and recorded with the great vocalese artist Eddie Jefferson, the Manhattan Transfer, Bobby Enriquez, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, Tom Waits, Boots Randolph, and Nancy Wilson, to name just a few of his musical collaborations. Notably, Cole has performed at the Village Vanguard and Carnegie Hall as well as given a command performance for the Queen of England.
Cole has recorded over 50 albums and CDs, including his top hit album “Hollywood Madness” (1979 Muse Records) and his tribute album to Leonard Bernstein, “Richie Cole Plays West Side Story” (1997 Music Masters Jazz). A prolific composer, Cole also finds time to arrange for full big bands, symphony orchestras and frequent performances at jazz festivals worldwide. Moreover, he enjoys sharing his love of music with younger generations and is active recording, touring, and presenting university master classes.
Cole was appointed to the Board of the National Jazz Service Organization and the Board for the National Endowment for the Arts where he served as chairman for one year. He is also a charter 20member of the International Association of Jazz Educators. In 2005 he was awarded the State of California Congressional Certificate of Lifetime Achievement in Jazz on behalf of the Temecula Jazz Society. He is recognized worldwide for the sweet sounds of his alto saxophone and the creativity behind his Alto Madness Orchestra.
The idea of the Alto Madness Orchestra was developed by Cole in the early 90s and its continuing popularity is proof of its uniqueness. As Cole explains, “The idea of the Orchestra is the concept and sound of an eighteen-piece big band using only seven instruments, four of which are horns. Not only does this have the big band ensemble sound, it also allows us plenty of room for improvisation as if we were in a quartet setting.”
The Madison version of the Alto Madness Orchestra was formed by Cole in 2013 in collaboration with widely known local alto sax musician, Eric Koppa. The orchestra had Cole’s blessing and some 200 original arrangements from The Buddy Rich Big Band, with which Cole performed for many years. Known affectionately as a “Little Buddy Rich Band,” the Madison Alto Madison Orchestra is dedicated to more traditional jazz and bebop.
About Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, an opera with music by Daniel Schnyder and a libretto by Bridgette A. Wimberly:
New York City, 1955. As his body lies unclaimed in the morgue, saxophone great Charlie Parker returns in spirit to the jazz club Birdland, determined to compose a final masterpiece. Family and friends blend in and out of his memories in an acclaimed new opera that tells of his tortured, brilliant life “with a pulsing, jazz-infused score” (The New York Times).
Charlie Parker’s Yardbird was widely praised following its 2015 premiere in Philadelphia. The Wall Street Journal said, “its rhythms snap and swing, its melodies – including real arias – seize the ear, its ensembles crackle with energy.”
Madison Opera will be only the second company to perform this theatrical tour de force that melds jazz and opera. Performances are February 10 and 12, 2017 in the Capitol Theater at the Overture Center for the arts. Tickets are available at overturecenter.org or by calling 608-258-4141.