Rob Ickes with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra

Catching up with reso-monster Rob Ickes this week, we learned that he has an upcoming show as the featured guest with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, a big band of the sort that was the basis for pop music in the 1930s and ’40s.

This “traditional” 17-piece group has a 12 year history, under the direction of trumpeter Vance Thompson, an instructor in the University of Tennessee’s music department. The more harmonically dense style of the later days of the big band era appear to be their specialty.

Guest soloists are a regular part of the band’s concerts, and all involved are looking forward to this April 10 show, Country and Bluegrass meet the Big Band, at Knoxville’s Bijou Theatre.

Rob said that he made the connection with Vance through alternative music vocalist Robinella, who studied at UT, and with whom both Thompson and Ickes have worked. At her prompting, Vance attend a Blue Highway concert and met up with Rob.

“We played Knoxville, and he came up after the show and said if I ever want to do a jazz show, to let him know. So here we are!

I haven’t seen all of the arrangements yet, but we’ll have a couple of rehearsals before the gig. We’ll be doing stuff from my records, plus some bluegrass and country standards. Robinella will also be there to sing a few. I know that Vance wants to do West Coat Blues, which I cut on my Road Songs record, but he is arranging it more like the Wes Montgomery version.

This should be fun – I’m really looking forward to this show. I’m always surprised – and pleased – by how well the dobro fits in these various arenas.”

You can find all the various show details online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.