The opening concert in 2003 was a reprieve of Women in Jazz. Alto saxophonist Cercie Miller led the band which included Diane Wernick on tenor sax, pianist Consuelo Candelaria, bassist Genevieve Rose and drummer Carolyn Castellano. Dominque Eade, whom the New York Times described as “one of the most intelligent vocalists working in jazz today,” was a special guest. This original tune features both saxophonists Cercie and Diane. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om_ICP324x4&feature=youtube_gdata
One of the advantages of the Christ Episcopal Church venue was that I could sit in the wings and sketch the players during the performance. My vantage point allowed me to paint them from behind, an unusual view but without the pressure of capturing a likeness. That night I did two watercolors: one of Cercie and Dominque and the other of Diane.
April 5 marked The 20th Anniversary Concert. I had been working on this event for more than six months. Marshall Wood was instrumental in helping to organize the musical program for the evening. A total of ten musicians performed. Marshall and I felt it was especially important that each one had equal “air time.” The list read like a Who’s Who of Boston jazz: Tim Ray, piano, Yuron Israel, drums, Marshall Wood bass, Mike Monaghan and Bill Pierce saxophone, Herb Pomeroy trumpet, Kenny Wenzel trombone, Jon Wheatley guitar, and vocalists Semenya McCord and Donna Byrne. Eric Jackson, then host of “Eric in the Evening” at WGBH-FM was the MC for the evening. I was personally very thrilled that so many musicians had agreed to be part of the 20th anniversary. Many of them knew that I planned to retire after the concert; perhaps some wanted to show their appreciation to me and to Highland Jazz.
At intermission Hank Solomon presented me with a proclamation from Mayor Cohen of Newton declaring April 5, 2003 Nancy Alimansky Day. I was really surprised and delighted, although I joked that learning it was “my day” at 9:30 pm didn’t leave me much time to enjoy it! My comments emphasized the primary goal of the organization: to promote the talent of Boston area musicians. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzLZ21m8f8c&feature=youtube_gdata
It was an evening of wonderful music. Semenya performed a Billie Holiday tune, “Stormy Blues,” and reminded the audience that her first tribute concert to Lady Day took place in 1984 during Highland Jazz’s first season. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-Tg71_cOJU Bill Pierce and Mike Monaghan participated in a friendly but hot battle of tenor saxophones in “Sweet Georgia Brown.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhR_Je9TBHs For his solo tune Bill, whom Eric called “Boston Billy,” chose “Jitterbug Waltz.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOFurewCC7w. Everyone joined in at the end with an energetic version of “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljyBXWYVL68&feature=youtube_gdata
And then it was over.