The Orchestra, Which Has Performed 

L.A. Jazz Venues Including Catalina’s and LACMA,

Brings Their Eclectic Mix of New and Relevant Music

To a Rock Club for the First Time While Backing 

The Songstress on Timeless Hits Like 

“Piano in the Dark” and “Get Here”

Currently riding high on the release of the contemporary anthem “What Will It Take” – her first solo recording in 20 years – and the release of the movie musical “The Color Purple” featuring songs she co-wrote for the hit stage musical, Grammy winning and Tony Award nominated singer/songwriter Brenda Russell breaks new ground with her upcoming first-ever appearance at The Roxy on Sunset Strip, in concert with the Hollywood Jazz Orchestra.

The show is at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 24, 2024. Tickets will be available at after March 1.  

Best known for her Grammy nominated songs “Piano in the Dark” and “Get Here” – a 1990 Billboard Top 5 hit for Oleta Adams – Russell will be performing, among others, big band arrangements of those classics and “What Will It Take,” in addition to “Dinner With Gershwin” (a Top 10 R&B hit for Donna Summer), and two tunes from her 2000 album Paris Rain, “Walkin’ In New York” and “Please Felipe.” 

“I’m very honored to be asked to perform with the Hollywood Jazz Orchestra, as this will be my first time performing with an orchestra, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” says Brenda. “I’m bringing a little Latin, jazz and straight up pop! It should be a wonderful evening!”

The fresh arrangements of Brenda’s songs for the 18-piece Hollywood Jazz Orchestra are being coordinated by composer, arranger, orchestrator, conductor and guitarist Charley Harrison, the ensemble’s conductor who has also been the Director of the UCLA Jazz Orchestra since 2004. Over the years, Harrison has had compositions and arrangements performed by jazz greats like Kurt Elling, Marcus Miller, Cedar Walton, Joe Williams and The Count Basie Orchestra. 

In addition to Brenda’s music, the Hollywood Jazz Orchestra will perform an instrumental set featuring an eclectic mix of new and relevant music, with some surprises, including new arrangements of iconic songs by Charles Mingus and Maynard Ferguson – along with some vibrant stagecraft to keep the audience visually engaged.  

“I always enjoy working with gifted musicians,” says Harrison. “Collaborating with Brenda Russell, who is both a gifted songwriter and outstanding vocalist, provides a perfect opportunity to showcase the versatility of the Hollywood Jazz Orchestra.” 

The nucleus of The Hollywood Jazz Orchestra were all members of the second iteration of the Buddy Collette Big Band, which formed in the mid-2000s during the saxophone legend’s later years. After rejoining forces with many new performers in late 2022, the new orchestra (featuring many younger members) made its debut at Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood and later headlined at LACMA and the Rochester Jazz Festival in New York. Its arrangers include Harrison, Tom Garling, Conrad Herwig and Bob Mintzer. 

“To my knowledge, The Roxy has never had a jazz orchestra or big band perform there,” says the orchestra’s Executive Director David Payne. “But we would much rather take the jazz orchestra out to the public playing rock venues than venues normally associated with this style, To put it in New York terms, we would rather play Brooklyn Steel than Lincoln Center. We’re trying to change the preconceptions and expectations the public has about big band concerts. We’re not a group of old white guys playing tired arrangements of Ellington, Basie and Dorsey. We rock! We have three arrangers working on the Brenda concert and they’re having a ball.”

The Hollywood Jazz Orchestra includes some of L.A.’s most storied and in demand musicians, including Justo Almario, Gerry Pinter, Randall Willis, Ian Vo, Les Benedict, Anne King, Ann Patterson, Clayton Cameron, Trevor Ware, Brian O’Rourke, Kris Bergh and Robyn Javier.

Photo Credits: Courtesy of Brenda Russell