You won't have to go far to ring in the new year this weekend. White Horse Black Mountain has a couple of events that will wear out your dancing shoes.
On Friday, Dec. 29 at 8 p.m., the Asheville Jazz Orchestra will draw from its rich seasonal repertoire of original compositions and arrangements for a special holiday show. Tickets are $15.
There’s certainly plenty of material to choose from. Musical giants such as Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton have made notable contributions to the winter holiday repertoire with their arrangements for big band. And virtually every jazz singer of note has put their stamp on Christmas favorites.
Founded in 2006, The Asheville Jazz Orchestra has evolved into Western North Carolina’s hardest swinging band. Under direction of trombonist/composer Dave Wilken, the band's mission is to preserve and advance America’s big band jazz tradition. The AJO plays music from the canon of Swing Era greats like Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman but also make forays into more progressive works by Kenton, Thad Jones and Gordon Goodwin.
The AJO also make a point of expanding the swing repertoire by programming freshly written pieces, many by local composers. The players in the AJO come from the ranks of the best jazz artists in the area, some of whom have spent time in latter-day incarnations of legendary big bands.
On Sunday, Dec. 31, Marcel Anton's All Star New Year's Eve Band headlines White Horse's annual New Year's Bash. The 9 p.m. event includes a special appearance by B.J. Leiderman. Tickets are $23 advance, $25 door.
Anton, a high-energy guitarist, vocalist and showman, has assembled a top-notch band for the occasion that consists of Michael Hynes (bass) and James Kyle (percussion), with Llana Florenz and Simone Barnhart sharing vocal duties. Years of experience as a performer have equipped Anton to tackle just about any genre of American popular music with panache, and he excels at working the energy of the crowd.
Although Leiderman and band are on sabbatical this winter, his alter-ego, “BJ the DJ,” will be spinning danceable favorites from the sound booth during set breaks, guaranteeing that there will be no dead air or idle feet.