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Tag: Rich Wetzel Groovin’ Higher Orchestra


New Year’s Eve jazz at The Harmon, Tacoma

If First Night isn’t your thing and you still need a party to go to on New Year’s Eve, head for The Harmon in downtown Tacoma, where you’ll get cover-free big band jazz rocking tunes until midnight on December 31.

The man behind it is Rich Wetzel, who’s been lining up regular jazz gigs for his Groovin’ Higher Orchestra for a while now, proving that big band jazz can draw a crowd on a weekend. Playing high energy jazz-rock-funk-Latin, the band has a tight ensemble and fluid soloists, even on unusual instruments like flugelhorn.

The all-ages show is free

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Rich Wetzel’s Big Band Christmas, next week at Tacoma Community College

Big band great Stan Kenton. Courtesy image.

If you’ve had enough of traditional Christmas carols and classical, Rich Wetzel is here to save your sanity. The trumpeter and big band leader of the Groovin’ Higher Orchestra is expanding his troops and going back to the days of jazz pioneer Stan Kenton for a concert at Tacoma Community College next week.

“Stan Kenton was a the equivalent of a rock star in his day,” explained Wetzel, “and his big band made the transition from a purely dance band in the swing era to a jazz band. Even toward the end of the dance era, he would do a jazz set where the musicians would stretch out and the audiences would listen. Later he got more experimental with instrumentation of this big band including using mellophones.”

Wetzel’s 26-piece band will do all this and more in “A Stan Kenton Big Band Christmas” next Thursday. Read more »


Rich Wetzel’s big band orchestra plays free at the Harmon this weekend, plus a new jazz meet-up site

Rich Wetzel’s inspired to pack out the Harmon pub in Tacoma with jazz fans on Saturdays. After a successful debut there in July, the trumpeter’s Groovin’ Higher Orchestra will play a cover-free gig there this Saturday night.

“We want to prove that a big band jazz-rock and Latin orchestra can pack the place again, that July was not a fluke,” says Wetzel. “We know and believe that if more club owners get a chance to hear and see that booking jazz on a prime night works, it helps the whole community.”

Wetzel has also created a new community

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