Band establishes 2020 residency at Jilly’s Music Room
— On a recent weeknight at Jilly’s Music Room, the nearly 20 members of Danjo Jazz Orchestra filled the club with a timeless big band sound, the power of horns and wind instruments a refreshing change from garage rock bands.
This iteration of the jazz orchestra also was under the new leadership of Andrew Wegierski, a University of Akron graduate who began gigging his freshman year. Also new for the group will be a 2020 residency at Jilly’s Music Room, so Akron residents will be afforded the group’s blend of jazz standards and originals on a monthly basis.
Wegierski said his first professional gig was in a big band at Trinity Gospel Temple in Canton, where performing once a month around the Cleveland and Akron area gave him the chance to expand his network and meet some of his future band members along the way. “Being in music school helped as well, because we all worked together to get our names out there in the real world,” he said.
While jump-starting his teaching career in brass and percussion at Firefly Music School, Wegierski was called in to play for Danjo by previous bandleader Dan Angotti. He took over as bandleader for the group this past June, just after graduating. “I couldn’t believe it,” Wegierski added. “My dream was actually coming true.”
Most of the group’s existing members stayed when Wegierski took over. He was, however, on the hunt for a bass player and chose Rob Sobnosky, band director at Chagrin Falls High School. Sobnosky was instrumental in helping Wegierski get his first gig at Trinity Gospel Temple, so this was an opportunity to repay the favor.
Wegierski inherited Dan’s music library as well, so he was able to sort through it all to make sure he knew the music. When asked about some of his favorite songs to play, Wegierski said, “This is a really tough question because I love every tune in the book. My favorite ones are the ones that showcase how great of musicians my players are.”
The residency at Akron’s Jilly’s Music Room for 2020 has been set. The venue has asked Danjo to play on the first Thursday of every month, beginning in February, to which Wegierski happily agreed.
A recent performance at Jilly’s featured vocalist Ava Preston, a dynamic and celebrated 15-year-old performer, so the bar is set high for the coming year.
Response to Danjo Jazz Orchestra has been positive, and residents in Kent and Akron areas can experience this unique big band sound in coming weeks. The group’s final performance for 2019 is Tuesday, Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m. at the Venice Cafe, 163 W. Erie St., in Kent (featuring the Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown Christmas album). For info, visit https://www.facebook.com/DanjoJazzOrchestra/.