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YSU jazz greats will gather for concert

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Published: Thu, September 13, 2018 @ 12:05 a.m.
 

By GUY D’ASTOLFO

dastolfo@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Sunday’s Jazz All-Stars concert will bring together a handful of exceptional Youngstown State University graduates who left their mark on the music world.

Trumpet player Sean Jones and saxophonist Ralph Lalama will take turns on the stage at Ford Family Recital Hall, leading an ensemble of Phil Palombi, bass; James Weidman, piano; and Daryll Pellegrini, drums.

Jones, a Warren native, is an educator and artistic director of both the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestras. Lalama, an Aliquippa, Pa., native, is a fixture on the New York jazz scene, where he currently leads the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

The benefit concert will raise money for the Tony Leonardi Scholarship fund, named in honor of the late Dana School of Music music professor who built the jazz program at YSU.

It is also part of the 150th anniversary celebration of the Dana School, which is being marked this year.

Never before have so many prominent Dana jazz alumni returned to town to play a concert. Credit goes to Bill Bodine, the Youngstown native and Dana jazz graduate who put the concert together.

If Bodine has his way, it will become an annual event.

“The music is going to be killer,” he said. “Also, this is the first of what I hope will be a series of jazz alumni concerts.”

Bodine had a long career in pop music, starting with the first national tour of Boardman native Maureen McGovern in the 1970s.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1973 and went on to perform with the likes of Van Morrison, Olivia Newton-John, Melissa Manchester, Cher and Sergio Mendes.

Bodine was there for the inauspicious birth of the jazz program at Dana.

“We established it in 1969, Phil Wilson and myself,” said Bodine. “We were first-year trumpet players, and we started complaining that there was no place to play contemporary music on campus. It was all orchestral and band music. So we started a renegade program, and we got Tony Leonardi to bring us some music. By the end of the first song of the first session, Tony was in charge because he was the only guy in the room who really knew about jazz.”

That original gathering was to become the beginning of the Dana jazz program.

“Lucky we had Tony [Leonardi] there,” said Bodine. “He turned it into a real curriculum. It became a place where talented people came to grow. Tony was a master at channeling that talent and inspiring people to reach higher.”

In addition to the Sunday concert, the five artists will offer a clinic in Room 2222 of Bliss Hall on the YSU campus from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. At this event, which is free and open to the public, the musicians will share their knowledge with aspiring musicians and coach Dana School of Music jazz combos.



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