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Jazzin' it up with the Adirondack Jazz Orchestra

PLATTSBURGH - The Adirondack Jazz Orchestra has your fix if you're in the mood for some big band music.

The group - which has been playing since November 2003 - has become a regular fixture at Olive Ridley's on Court Street, performing the first Wednesday of every month.

Matthew Pray, the Adirondack Jazz Orchestra's musical director, said the band has had "a great following" since beginning the regular performances.

"It's nice to see some of the same people month after month, but still seeing new people every time," said Pray. "It's great that our following is made up of both the older generations and young ones as well."

The AJO, as it has come to be known, features "some of the finest musicians in the area," said Pray, showcasing the talent of its nearly 20 regular members who hail from across the Adirondacks.

What keeps people coming back to their performances, said Pray, is simply their sound.

"We try to incorporate all types of big band music," said Pray. "If you come out to see us, you won't just hear the dance band music everyone thinks of when they hear the words 'Big Band.' We play a lot of contemporary big band music as well."

Selections made famous by Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and several other greats are what makes up the AJO's repertoire, with the band developing a following for its many lively arrangements.

"It is fun music," said Pray. "We've got high school students from several schools now that love to come out and hear the band ... We have several elderly ladies who drive about an hour each month just to come out just to hear the first set, but never want to leave."

Most recently, the AJO had the honor of opening for The World Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, during a performance at Moriah Central School May 10. The group was excited to perform the once-in-a-lifetime gig, said Pray, and is looking forward to headlining their own performances this summer at Saranac Village at Will Rogers and the Jay Summer Concert Series.

"It is a pleasure working with such great people," said Pray. "Every member of this group is an outstanding person in my opinion ... Every month I'm hearing new and exciting things starting to happen."

(Editor's Note: The Adirondack Jazz Orchestra will perform this Wednesday, June 2, beginning at 8 p.m. They can be followed on MySpace at www.myspace.com/adirondackjazz orchestra or on Facebook by searching for Adirondack Jazz Orchestra.)

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