Concert series features jazz icons June 27

TAYLOR – Nationally acclaimed jazz musicians Jerry McKenzie and Dave Bennett will perform together from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday during the Summer Concert Series at the Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

The series features a variety of live music, musicians and artwork in the relaxing setting of the conservatory, at 22314 Northline Road.

Live jazz and blues will be performed from 6 to 8 p.m. each Wednesday. Tickets will be $5. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome and encouraged, but outside food and beverages are not allowed. There will be cash bar with food and beverage service starting at 5 p.m. Refreshments will be served by Crystal Gardens.

The Just Jazz trio, which includes McKenzie on drums, Terry Lower on the keys and Ray Tini on bass, will feature Bennett on the clarinet as a special attraction.

McKenzie is a well-known jazz drummer in the Detroit area and worked with the Stan Kenton Orchestra for many years. While playing with the Kenton Orchestra, he recorded numerous albums on Capital Records, including Grammy Award-winning “Kenton’s West Side Story” and “Adventures in Jazz.”

He continues to keep the Kenton sound alive by performing at a number of tribute concerts in his honor.

In addition, McKenzie has performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Michele LeGrand, Jack Brokensha, Rosemary Clooney and Mel Torme. He also has performed with the Johnny Trudel Orchestra, the Emil Moro Big Band, the Brookside Jazz Ensemble and the Jimmy Wilkins Big Band, among others.

Currently, McKenzie plays with his Just Jazz trio Thursday nights at Nikola’s in Southfield. He recently recorded two new CDs and he continues to appear with big bands such as the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

McKenzie was in attendance during the opening night of the Summer Concert Series on June 13 to listen to his friend Mary Boonenberg perform with her group Girls’ Night Out. Boonenberg is one of the organizers of the series. When she asked McKenzie and company to be part of the series, he quickly agreed.

McKenzie said Just Jazz and Bennett also will perform on July 11 during Kevin Sands’ tribute to Frank Sinatra.

“The setting down there with the Botanical Gardens is fantastic,” McKenzie said. “It’s a beautiful outdoor venue. I can’t wait to get there with my group. I’m glad Mary asked me to do it. We’re looking forward to both concerts.”

Michigan clarinetist Bennett, a self-taught prodigy, has established himself during the last five years as America’s premiere clarinet interpreter, playing in the style and sound inspired by his hero, Benny Goodman.

Bennett has performed throughout the United States and Canada, playing with more than 20 orchestras, including those in Detroit, Toronto, Nashville, Vancouver, Orlando, Sarasota and Columbus.

“Dave Bennett is one of the finest performers I have had the pleasure of working with,” said Andre Lane, principal pops conductor with the Orlando Philharmonic. “There is no doube he is one of the greatest clarinetists of our time.”

The Summer Concert Series debuted June 13 with Girls’ Night Out and followed with The Three Bops Jazz Combo on June 20. The series was designed by local music and art lovers to provide a variety of music and artwork in a relaxing setting.

The remaining lineup for summer 2012 is:

• July 4 – Red, White & Blues with the Amazing Wahoo Brothers. (This is a special Fourth of July engagement; tickets are $15; hotdogs will be served)

• July 11 – Sinatra Salute with Kevin Sands, featuring Jerry McKenzie on drums.

• July 18 – Rare Standard modern progressive jazz.

• July 25 – Randy Napoleon, a jazz guitarist currently touring with Freddy Cole.

• Aug. 1 – Penny Wells, contemporary rhythm and blues/jazz vocalist.

• Aug. 8 – The Paul Keller Quartet, featuring Sarah D’Angelo.

For more information, call Erin Dobbins at 734-558-3228 or go to the Taylor Conservatory website,