Sweetwater jazz series set to kick off in Sewickley
Kevin McManus wants to change the image of the trombone.
The founder of the Pittsburgh Trombone Project, a band that will perform the first concert of Sweetwater Center for the Arts' 10th annual Sweet Jazz Series Feb. 7, said the trombone can be a wonderful instrument when it comes to jazz music.
The band will perform a tribute to J.J. (James Louis) Johnson and Kai Winding — prominent trombonists from the 1950s through the 1970s, who first began to use the trombone as a jazz instrument and were the first ones to “put the trombone in the spotlight,” McManus said.
“It's more than marching music and circus clown music,” he said.
“We want to change that humorous image and show people it can play beautiful melodies.”
The Swissvale resident said he founded the band five years ago. The core group includes McManus; Bob Matchette of Cranberry; Chris Carson of Donora; and James Nova of Ohio Township, all of whom play the trombone.
McManus said the group has branched out to include a rhythm section used at certain venues, such as Sweetwater.
The larger group includes McManus and Matchette, and Tom Glovier of the North Side on piano; Bob Insko, Vandergrift, bass player; and David Glover, Cranberry, drummer.
McManus, an award-winning trombonist who started lessons in 1992, has founded several bands; teaches a variety of musical instruments at several universities; has written and arranged music for other groups; toured nationally and on Broadway in the show “Urinetown: the Musical”; and performed solo in Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera's “Swing.”
Among the musicians he has performed with include Aretha Franklin, Glen Campbell, Tony Bennett, the Four Tops and Josh Groban. The other members of the band — all in their 30s and early 40s — also have extensive musical histories and music educations.