During his decades-long career as a National Geographic photographer, Bill Allard traveled the world and documented everything from India’s Untouchables and residents of the Marais in Paris to Montana cowboys and Easter week traditions in Peru. But for all of Allard’s adventures, there’s something the octogenarian, who’s also an accomplished musician, still longs to do: sing with a large jazz band.
On March 10, he will get his chance. Allard, who says “music has been a driving force for my entire life,” is one of several local musicians who will perform with the Albemarle High School Jazz Ensemble during the second annual Swing Into Spring benefit concert. The show will help pay for the band’s April trip to Swing Central Jazz, a three-day workshop and competition that’s part of the Savannah Music Festival.
For Allard, the evening is also a family affair. He’ll take the Jefferson Theater stage with his daughter, Terri, a singer-songwriter and host of public TV’s “Charlottesville Inside Out,” and grandson, Will Evans, a trumpeter in the AHS band.
“It’s always a joy to play music with both of them,” says Will of his mother and grandfather. “We have this connection, and I know where they’re going to go with things musically. I just try not to step on their toes and complement what they’re doing. I love it; it’s one of my favorite things.”
Terri says she’s always “thrilled” when she has an opportunity to perform with Will and her father. “They’re each so passionate about music, and both of them have greatly influenced my growth as a musician and music-lover.” When she was growing up, Terri says her dad, who’s sat in with her band for years, filled their house with music, and introduced her to the work of musicians who still remain some of her favorites. As for her son, she says Will’s “passion and respect for jazz and for music in general is contagious. I feel fortunate to be his mom and to follow him along his musical path.”
But the Allards aren’t the only family act on Sunday night’s bill. John Kelly has decades of experience as an acoustic singer-songwriter, and says he rarely gets nervous before a gig. Except, that is, when he performs with his daughter, Sam, a saxophonist and singer in the Albemarle jazz band. “I have enormous respect for her talent and for her musicianship,” Kelly says. “She is someone who is completely in command of what she is doing on stage.”
And like Will Evans, Sam Kelly has music in her blood: Her grandfather played saxophone and flute in the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and her mother, Angela, is a musician and music teacher. “I’ve spent my entire life watching my parents perform, and they have both inspired me to pursue and have a passion for music,” Sam says.
In addition to the Kellys and the Allards, the evening of jazz standards and pop and R&B hits will feature performances by Adar, John D’earth, Charles Owens, Stephanie Nakasian, Barbara Edwards, Madeline Holly-Sales, Berto Sales, Danny Barrale, Davina Jackson, Taylor Barnett, Ryan Lee, Lydie Omesiette, Moasia Jackson, and Michael Elswick.
“When we had the idea to do this last year, we thought it would be a great platform for this community to see and hear just how talented these kids are, and the kind of program a once-in-a-lifetime educator like Greg Thomas has built at AHS,” says John Kelly. “Those of us who were there last year, whether on stage or in the audience, learned that it was much more than that. It was an evening of first-class music. Period.”
Doors for Swing Into Spring open at 6pm, and the music starts at 7. Tickets for the March 10 event are $15-25 in advance ($80 for a table for four), and $18-28 at the door. For tickets and more information, go to jeffersontheater.com.