Whether your tastes lean toward rock, jazz, or blues, there was something to tempt your musical palette when a “once-in-a-lifetime” lineup of musicians took the stage at Infinity Hall Hartford on October 21. And while the talent was on the stage, the stars of the night are the Goodwin College students who will eventually benefit from the scholarships fundraised by the “Jazz & Blues Mash-Up.” The Hoffman Auto Group was the presenting sponsor of the event in collaboration with Infinity Hall.
The inception of the event came about through a dinner conversation of Goodwin College’s Student Record Specialist Christine Boudreau and her husband Al with Jim Belanger, a musician, part-time booking agent and personal friend of iconic musician James Montgomery. After discussing their connections to the music business and brainstorming how they might collaborate on a project — one that would both entertain the community and support students at Goodwin — the idea of the “mash-up” was born.
The evening opened with the Jerilyn Rae Jazz Quartet and the Sugartones, offering everything from classics (“Son of a Preacher Man”) to current chart hits (“Exes and Ohs”). The mash-up began at 8 p.m., and the credentials of the performers proved a true “Who’s Who” of the music industry. James Montgomery was the lead performer and served as the evening’s emcee. The James Montgomery Blues Band included David Hull (The Joe Perry Project) and George McCann (The Blues Brothers). According to Montgomery, all of the musicians have been friends for years — “It’s like a family reunion!” — and their comfort in playing together was beautifully evident throughout the night. While each performer had a “star turn,” most numbers featured the majority of musicians working in unison. The artists included David Foster (vocals, Shaboo All-Stars), Barry Goudreau (guitar and vocals, Boston), Grace Kelly (sax and vocals), Mitch Chakour (keys, Joe Cocker, Bonnie Raitt, The J. Geils Band), and The Uptown Horns (The Rolling Stones, James Brown, Billy Joel). A surprise sit-in performer was Joey Peebles, drummer for Trombone Shorty.
While the audience was treated to one great moment after another, Chakour’s rendition of “Georgia” and Kelly’s interesting sax take on “Amazing Grace” brought the crowd to its feet. Montgomery proved time after time that he’s lost none of the amazing style of his Shaboo days. He also reminded the audience why they were all there: “Education is all up to us. We’re proud to be here tonight for Goodwin College.”
David Foster presented a gift of $2,500 from the Foster Foundation to the Goodwin College Foundation on the request of him, his wife Marilyn, and his brother, Mark.
Both Montgomery and Goodwin Vice President for Advancement Brooke Penders mentioned the possibility that Jazz and Blues Mash-Up could become an annual fundraising event to support Goodwin students.
For more information on supporting scholarships at Goodwin College, please visit www.goodwin.edu/giving/ways-to-give.