From a bossa nova beat on the beloved “Christmas Time Is Here” from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to a boogaloo twist on holiday songs, you have two nights to enjoy evenings full of live music, Dec. 19 and 20.
Get tickets now for the annual Ashby and Friends Christmas Concert, a benefit for Greenwood Community Theatre, by calling the GCT box office at 864-229-5704.
A special guest this year is trumpeter Mark Rapp, who is bringing with him musicians from two groups — ColaJazz Little Big Band: The Band That Could!— and the Mark Rapp Quintet.
Organizer of the concert is Greenwood guitarist Ashby Stokes.
“It’s all Christmas music this year, by local performers plus the headliners out of Columbia who are doing some world-class jazz,” Stokes said. “Mark Rapp has traveled the world. If you ever go to Disney World and hear all the trumpet music around the theme park, it’s him.
“Mark studied jazz under Ellis Marsalis and has a masters degree in jazz from the University of New Orleans,” Stokes continued. “He’s super charismatic on stage and is great with the audience.”
Christmas music, Stokes said, sounds incredible played on big band and jazz instruments.
Every year, Stokes said, this Christmas benefit for GCT grows, with more musicians lending their time and talent to the cause.
“I played the GCT Christmas show a number of years ago and it was a total blast,” Rapp said. “I’m so psyched that I’m coming back. For the first night of this year’s concert, playing with me will be a mini big band, with swing versions of Christmas tunes. The next night, I’m bringing in my quintet and we are doing a wide variety. ... Expect world-class jazz. It’s going to be toe-tapping, head-bobbing music.”
Rapp, a composer, multi-instrumentalist, recording and touring artist, said one of his favorite things to do as a full-time working musician is song arrangements.
“We do a New Orleans-street beat type of thing with our version of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,’ Rapp said. “And, I just did a pretty cool arrangement of ‘Go Tell It on the Mountain.’”
From New York to New Orleans to Columbia and lots in-between, Rapp said his holiday performance schedule is packed.
“The next three weeks are just insane,” Rapp said. “I’m taking my vitamins and trying to stay healthy.”
Rapp is a founder of ColaJazz.com and is involved with everything from outreach and and after-school programs, to a listening room series and more.Plus, Rapp teaches some private music lessons and is writing music for the Columbia City Ballet.
In February 2018, Rapp was named an Ambassador of Jazz for the State of South Carolina by the South Carolina House of Representatives.
“It’s pretty amazing all of this is in South Carolina,” Rapp said. “You don’t have to travel to New York to experience jazz talent.”