The Brookdale Big Band celebrated three decades of swing, jazz and high-energy entertainment on Nov. 14 with a special 30th anniversary concert at the Performing Arts Center in Lincroft.
Hundreds of local music fans and Brookdale community members packed into the theater for the milestone performance, which featured an eclectic set-list of 1940’s and 1950’s numbers inspired by jazz greats such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Benny Goodman.
Since its founding by Brookdale faculty in 1985, the Big Band has boasted a revolving lineup of acclaimed jazz and swing musicians from across New Jersey, including a diverse range of Brookdale faculty, students and alumni.
The current group features Brookdale speech professor Barbara Baron (vocals), music professor Joseph Accurso (piano and conductor), and Brookdale instructor Gary Mazzaroppi, who played bass alongside legendary guitarist Les Paul as a member of the Les Paul Trio.
In addition to regular performances at Brookdale, the Big Band has played more than 250 shows over the past 30 years, including local fairs, jazz festivals, veterans commemorations and the decommissioning of the USS Artic at Naval Weapons Station Earle in Colts Neck on Flag Day in 2002.
“It has been a labor of love, and we have enjoyed every minute,” said Baron, who founded the group with Accurso in 1985.
“The world recognizes swing music as one of America’s great contributions to world culture, and it has been very fulfilling to be a part of its preservation. We have introduced thousands of people to this music over the past three decades, and we are proud of that.”
The Big Band’s current lineup is: Greg Grispart; Verne Whitlock; Joe Lawlor; Elliot Stern; Larry DeLucca; Frank Grasso; Joe Mosello; Jack Davis; Dan DellaPaoli; Jim Davis; Tom Avakian; Pat Dalton; Domenica Holmes; Tom Sayek; Gary Mazzaroppi; Doug Clark; Barbara Baron; and Joe Accurso.
Check out more photos of the 30th anniversary concert here.