This holiday season will be LEGENDARY!

As the community celebrates its 25th anniversary throughout the year, putting the bow on the silver anniversary during the holiday season called for something extra special, perhaps, legendary.

Message received!

On Sunday, December 19, Celebration residents are invited to what has become the must do event of the year – the CROA Holiday Concert – to take in the sights and sounds of The Legendary COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA®™ Directed By Scotty Barnhart (The Count Basie Orchestra mark appears under license from Rutgers University Institute of Jazz Studies).

Celebration Sanitation Services (CSS) presents the performance, slated for a 7 p.m. show time at the Celebration Community Field Complex (CCFC).

The event is free to all residents with a valid CROA ID; however, a limited number of reserved VIP tables will be available for sale beginning on Wednesday, July 7. Tables of six will be available for $35, with tables of four going for $25. Reservations can be made at celebrationparksandrec.com beginning at 9 a.m. on the seventh. Please contact the Lifestyle Office at 407-566-1200 or lifestyle@celebrationtownhall.com for additional information. Residents who choose not to purchase reserved seating are welcome to bring along their own seating to enjoy the evening.

In the history of Jazz music, there is only one bandleader that has the distinction of having his orchestra still performing sold out concerts all over the world, with members personally chosen by him, for over 30 years after his passing. Pianist and bandleader William James “Count” Basie was and still is an American institution that personifies the grandeur and excellence of Jazz. The Count Basie Orchestra, today directed by Scotty Barnhart, has won every respected jazz poll in the world at least once, won 18 Grammy Awards, performed for Kings, Queens, and other world Royalty, appeared in several movies, television shows, at every major jazz festival and major concert hall in the world. The latest honors are the 2018 Downbeat Readers Poll Award as the #1 Jazz Orchestra in the world, and a Grammy Nomination for their 2018 acclaimed recording, All About That Basie, which features special guests Stevie Wonder, Jon Faddis, Take 6, and Kurt Elling among others. It follows their critically acclaimed release in 2015 of A Very Swingin’ Basie Christmas!, the very first holiday album in the 80-year history of the orchestra. Released on Concord Music, it went to #1 on the Jazz charts and sold out on Amazon! Special guests include vocalists Johnny Mathis, Ledisi, our own Carmen Bradford and pianist Ellis Marsalis. A BBC TV produced documentary on Mr. Basie and the orchestra entitled Count Basie: Through His Own Eyes premiered on PBS in the US and UK in 2019 coinciding with the orchestra’s 85th Anniversary. It features interviews by Quincy Jones, Scotty Barnhart, Dee Askew, John Williams, and several other important members and associates of Mr. Basie and the orchestra.

Since Basie’s passing in 1984, Thad Jones, Frank Foster, Grover Mitchell, Bill Hughes, Dennis Mackrel, and now Scotty Barnhart, have led the Count Basie Orchestra and maintained it as one of the elite performing organizations in Jazz. Its next recording, Live at Birdland, was recorded at the historic New York club in January 2020 and celebrates the first 85 years of the orchestra as well as the 60th Anniversary of the original Live at Birdland recording. It will be released on Candid Records in 2021 and was produced by Scotty Barnhart.

Current members include musicians hired by Basie himself: Frequent guest vocalist Carmen Bradford (joined in 1983) and trombonist Clarence Banks (joined in 1984). Long-time members include Doug Miller (1989, formerly w/Lionel Hampton), and members who have joined in the last 15-25 years; trombonists David Keim (formerly w/Stan Kenton), Alvin Walker and Mark Williams, guitarist Will Matthews, trumpeters Shawn Edmonds and Endre Rice, saxophonists Doug Lawrence (formerly w/Benny Goodman, Buck Clayton) and returning on lead alto, David Glasser. Newer members include bassist Trevor Ware, lead trumpeter Frank Greene III and trumpeter Brandon Lee, pianist Glen Pearson and the youngest members still in their 20s, drummer Robert Boone, baritone saxophonist Josh Lee, and Markus Howell on alto sax and flute.

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