Wayne Bledsoe: Jazz returns to Market Square

Vance Thompson is the leader of the Marble City 5 and the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra.

Vance Thompson is the leader of the Marble City 5 and the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra.

When it comes to free music, Knoxville has an embarrassment of riches. Just about any night of the week you can find great free music happening somewhere.

One of the nicest events of 2012 was the Marble City 5 on Market Square during the summer.

Beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, The Marble City 5 will again perform free weekly shows on Market Square.

The band is made up of Vance Thompson on trumpet, Greg Tardy on sax, Keith Brown on piano, Kenneth Brown on drums and Clint Mullican on bass. And the fact that you’ll be able to enjoy some of the cream of the Knoxville jazz scene for free every week is pretty amazing.

My buddy Vance Thompson says things grew last year so that Market Square sometimes seemed packed.

“It did seem to keep getting bigger,” says Thompson. “A lot of nights it seemed like the Square was completely full.”

Vance says having a sound system (donated by Stellar Visions and Sounds) made a big difference both for the audience and the players. Both Prestige Cleaners and the City of Knoxville are kicking in support for the series.

The format for the 2013 shows won’t change, but it will be expanded.

The series will conclude on the Square with a concert by the full Knoxville Jazz Orchestra and then move into the Square Room for the fall.

“We are working up new music.”

Vance says he also hopes to continue a jazz jam session at the Emporium Black Box area on the first Friday of each month. The April event was a whopping success.

“We had 10 different people come and sit in — from (local sax great) Will Boyd to high school students.

“I think it’s really important to have young musicians play with more experienced musicians,” says Vance.

“I really want this to be a real jam session.”

n Aspiring composers have the chance to win cash and have their works judged by legendary trumpeter and band leader and recent East Tennessee resident Doc Severinsen and premiered by internationally renowned trumpeters Vince DiMartino and Allen Vizzutti.

The Doc Severinsen International Composition Contest will award $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place and $2,000 for third place in the competition. The winning compositions will be performed on Friday, Feb. 14, at the University of Tennessee Cox Auditorium during the Joint Regional Conference of College Music Society Southern Chapter, the College Music Society Mid-Atlantic Chapter and the Association for Technology in Music Instruction, planned at UT.

Entries in the competition must be for solo trumpet and large ensemble (either symphony orchestra or wind ensemble) and it’s open to all composers. The submission deadline is Aug. 1, 2013. For more details and contacts visit www.music.utk.edu/doccompcontest

- WDVX-FM was awarded the prestigious Tennessee Governor’s Arts Awards.

WDVX was honored along with Bobby “Blue” Bland, songwriter John Porter (“Hold On, I’m Coming,” “Knock On Wood,” and other greats), Knox Phillips (producer and Memphis music champion — he produced Knoxville’s Amazing Rhythm Aces, John Prine and others), Jim Sherraden (of Hatch Show Print), East Tennessee music booster James C. “Jim” Martin, woodcarver/dollmaker Polly Page, novelist Ann Patchett and Donald Fann, executive director of the Arts Center of Cannon County.

WDVX program director and co-founder Tony Lawson accepted the award on April 23.

Pretty good for a radio station that started in a camper trailer, where fans and patrons tossed donations through the door.

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