Smooth Grooves Tour headed to troops in Germany, Italy
September 20, 2010
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Army and Navy Entertainment Divisions are hosting a Smooth Grooves Tour at six U.S. military installations in Europe this month.
The jazz tour will open Sept. 17 at Robinson Barracks Community Club in Stuttgart, Germany, followed by a Sept. 18 show at the Performing Arts Center in Grafenwoehr. Both performances are scheduled for 8 p.m.
Armed Forces Network plans to broadcast the show at U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr for troops deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The jazz tour for troops and Families will feature saxophonists Yancyy and Destiny "T.K." Pivonka, violinist Karen Briggs, and the Straight Ahead Band, a female trio.
Admission is free to the Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation/American Forces Network events.
Yancyy is a veteran sax player who toured extensively with R&B/jazz recording artist Will Downing, among others. His impeccable style and artistic charisma enchant jazz-heads, serenade classical aficionados, inspire ecclesiastics and electrify pop, rock, funk and hip-hop fans.
Often described as "The Lady in Red," Briggs' fiery performances on violin during the multi-platinum selling "Yanni Live at the Acropolis" PBS special have been seen in 65 countries by a half-billion people. It is the second best-selling music video of all time, trailing only Michael Jackson's "Thriller."
All told, Briggs toured with Yanni for 13 years. She has performed with a number of other artists, including Stanley Clarke, En Vogue, Chaka Khan, Wynton Marsalis, Kenny Loggins and Diana Ross. Along the way, Briggs has played Carnegie Hall, Apollo Theatre and The Kennedy Center.
The Grammy Award-nominated Straight Ahead Band brings their straight-ahead jazz sound from Detroit, where Marion Hayden is a first-call bassist. An accomplished composer and educator, she also serves as a bass instructor in the University of Michigan's jazz department.
Straight Ahead Band pianist Alina Morr brought her blues background to the jazz scene after studying at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Drummer Gayelynn McKinney is the daughter of Harold McKinney, a legendary pianist and composer. Her uncle, Ray McKinney, was a successful bassist during the bebop era. Her cousin, Carlos McKinney, is a brilliant young pianist and producer on the international jazz scene. Gayelynn also plays piano and saxophone.
Pivonka, who goes by T.K., is an up-and-coming saxophone star who filled in when Paula Atherton withdrew from the tour.
The Smooth Grooves Tour moves to Italy for a Sept. 21 stop at the Arena in Vicenza (7 p.m.), Sept. 22 at the Darby Community Club at U.S. Army Garrison Livorno (7 p.m.), Sept. 24 at O'Rhys at Strikers at Naval Support Activity Naples (8 p.m.), and Sept. 25 on the Autumn Fest main stage at Naval Air Station Sigonella at 9:30 p.m.
"This is new experimental process for us, and obviously we're taking it straight to Europe," said Joe Leavell, talent coordinator for the Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command. "We're hoping to do some smooth jazz shows in the continental United States at some of our bases, as well."