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Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra gets bigger sound by getting smaller

| Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.
Sean Jones during the Three Rivers Arts Festival and Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival Opening Night Party at the The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Arts Education Center on Friday, June 1, 2012 Mike Mancini | For the Tribune-Review
Mike Tomaro on clarinet Credit: Lillian DeDomenic

Sean Jones and Mike Tomaro have big ideas for a smaller Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra.

The band, which is normally 18 pieces, will play in a 10-person form Tuesday at the Theater Square Cabaret, Downtown.

Tomaro, a sax player, arranger and band co-founder, says the idea is to present an ensemble that is a little more affordable for presenters to hire as well being able to fit into some smaller rooms.

But, he adds, musically, it also gives the players more opportunities to solo, making the band almost more of a large small group instead of a little big band.

The band will consist of three saxophones, two trumpets, a trombone and the rhythm section. The tonal color of the saxophones will change quite a bit because of the use of a variety of woodwinds.

“One of the necessities in this band is that each saxophonist be a good woodwind doubler,” Tomaro says, explaining that the three players will use far more than three instruments in many combinations.

Jones says this is the first of the band's appearances as its own organization. Formerly, it had been in-residence at the August Wilson Center, but it is now in the process of becoming its own non-profit organization.

That means it will play in more places and in small and large settings.

“We want to spread our wings and do our thing,” Jones says.

Tomaro, who is director of jazz studies at Duquesne University as well doing arranging and education workshops nationwide, will do all the charts for this concert.

He says the tunes will feature standards as well as originals by him, Jones and other members of the band.

— Bob Karlovits

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