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Jazz at the Trout presents Reggie and Mardra Thomas

March 19 6:30pm

Vocalist/Actress Mardra Thomas for years has painted a musical and historical picture on stage of the life and legacy of Billie Holiday. Mardra was recently nominated for Chicago’s Black Theater Alliance’s 2018 Lena Horne Award: Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in the Evanston, IL production of “Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” Her sultry voice is well suited to showcase Holiday’s sculptured phrasing that stamped a signature style on jazz singing. You’ll see her in theatres, concert halls, jazz festivals, and premier clubs.
Her music career was sparked in the St. Louis area when she performed for the opening of Dizzy Gillespie’s 70th Birthday Concert. Shortly thereafter she found herself trading scat solos with world-class trumpeter Clark Terry while performing with the East St. Louis Lincoln HS Big Band led by Ronald Carter. Mardra can be heard in radio and TV spots as well as educational and musical recordings.

Pianist/Organist Reggie Thomas is Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University, after three years as Professor of Jazz Piano at Michigan State University and 20 years as Professor of Music at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. He can be seen fronting his own groups (Mardra/Reggie Thomas Ensemble; OGD) on both piano and Hammond organ and performing with other artists including Will Matthews, Ann Hampton Callaway, and the Carl Allen/Rodney Whitaker Project. Thomas is on faculty for Carnegie Hall’s Jazz National Youth Orchestra as well as Carnegie’s Weill Music Institute, and performs “The Count’s Seat” as a member of The Count Basie Orchestra. Thomas is a rhythm section accompanist for the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competitions. He’s been a longtime consultant/clinician for Jazz at Lincoln Center for their Essentially Ellington Program and Band Director’s Academy.

The Thomas’ recordings collectively and individually include work with many jazz greats such as “Creepin’ With Clark”, Clark Terry/Mike Vax (Summit Music), and multiple projects with Clay Jenkins and Kim Richmond; as well as their own “Fade to Blue”(MaxJazz),”Standard Time” with Harold Jones (Victoria Records),”4″ (Jazz Compass), “Better Than Alright” MSU Professors of Jazz, and their most recent release “Matters Of The Heart”(MRTJazz) available on Itunes and CDBaby. Make sure you experience them live. Wherever you see them, you are sure to feel the warmth and welcome of “solid swing.”

Performance starts at 7:30 p.m., with opening performance at 6:30 p.m. by the Lawrence University Student Jazz Trio.

$20 Museum Members | $28 General | $5 Student

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