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A CJO Salute To Nancy Wilson Kicks Off Chicago Jazz Orchestra's 40th Anniversary

The Chicago Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Jeff Lindberg, kicks off the company's 40th anniversary season with A CJO Salute to Nancy Wilson, Saturday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave. in Chicago's Fine Arts Building. Single tickets are $35 (balcony) and $45 (floor).
Or, save with a CJO 2018-19 season package - the Nancy Wilson tribute concert, CJO's holiday ELLAbration on December 21 and a major concert event on May 18, 2019 celebrating 40 years of the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, all at the Studebaker - for just $85 (balcony) or $115 (floor). Single tickets and season packages are on sale now at

Nancy Wilson, of course, is the renowned American jazz diva with more than 70 albums and three Grammy Awards to her credit. Wilson had several nicknames, from "Sweet Baby" to "The Girl with the Honey-Coated Voice," but her personal favorite was "Song Stylist."

On October 13, CJO's special tribute to Wilson will boast an expanded 40-piece orchestra with guest vocalists Roberta Gambarini, Bobbi Wilsyn and Sarah Marie Young essaying Wilson's signature songs including "Guess Who I Saw Today," "Dearly Beloved" and "My One and Only Love."

Chicago jazz fans can look forward to a stylish night celebrating one of the most soulful, dynamic and unforgettable women in jazz.

Jazz diva Nancy Wilson was among contemporary music's most stylish and sultry vocalists; while often crossing over into the pop and R&B markets - and even hosting her own television variety program - she remained best known as a jazz performer, renowned for her work alongside figures including Cannonball Adderley and George Shearing. Born February 20, 1937, in Chillicothe, OH, Wilson first attracted notice performing the club circuit in nearby Columbus; she quickly earned a growing reputation among jazz players and fans, and she was recording regularly by the late '50s, eventually signing to Capitol and issuing LPs including 1959's Like in Love and Nancy Wilson with Billy May's Orchestra. Her dates with Shearing, including 1960's The Swingin's Mutual, solidified her standing as a talent on the rise, and her subsequent work with Adderley - arguably her finest recordings - further cemented her growing fame and reputation.

In the years to follow, however, Wilson often moved away from jazz, much to the chagrin of purists; she made numerous albums, many of them properly categorized as pop and R&B outings, and toured extensively, appearing with everyone from Nat King Cole and Sarah Vaughan to Ruth Brown and Lavern Baker. She even hosted her own Emmy-winning variety series for NBC, The Nancy Wilson Show, and was a frequent guest performer on other programs; hits of the period included "Tell Me the Truth," "How Glad I Am," "Peace of Mind," and "Now, I'm a Woman." Regardless of how far afield she traveled, Wilson always maintained her connections to the jazz world, and in the 1980s, she returned to the music with a vengeance, working closely with performers including Hank Jones, Art Farmer, Ramsey Lewis, and Benny Golson. By the 1990s, she was a favorite among the "new adult contemporary" market, her style ideally suited to the format's penchant for lush, romantic ballads; she also hosted the Jazz Profiles series on National Public Radio.

In the early 2000s, Wilson recorded two albums with Ramsey Lewis for Narada (2002's Meant to Be and 2003's Simple Pleasures). Her 2004 album R.S.V.P. (Rare Songs, Very Personal) was a blend of straight-ahead jazz and ballads, similar to her next record, 2006's Turned to Blue, which, like R.S.V.P., used a different instrumentalist for each track. In 2005, Capitol released a three-part series to pay tribute to Wilson's contributions to music in the '50s and '60s: Guess Who I Saw Today: Nancy Wilson Sings Songs of Lost Love, Save Your Love for Me: Nancy Wilson Sings the Great Blues Ballads, and The Great American Songbook. (Biography credit: Jason Ankeny,

Roberta Gambarini, born and raised in Turin, Italy, grew up listening to her father's record collection constantly. Her first vocal inspiration was Louis Armstrong, but she soon discovered Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, and Billie Holiday, as well as blues artists like Mahalia Jackson and Bessie Smith. A third-place finish at age 18 at a national jazz radio competition brought her enough exposure to send her performing around Europe. She later studied at the New England Conservatory in Boston, and soon after arriving she finished third in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. In 2006, after years of working and becoming a cult favorite in the New York jazz world, Gambarini started Groovin' High in order to release her American debut, Easy to Love. A collection of standards, the record impressed critics enough to garner the singer a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album, alongside Diana Krall and Nancy Wilson, among others.

Bobbi Wilsyn's career brought her from Los Angeles to Chicago after traveling from coast-to-coast with the Milt Trenier Show. She has gained international recognition as the featured jazz-blues vocalist with the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, founded by the late William Russo and has performed abroad with the Orbert Davis Quintet, the Thomas Gunther Sextet, and Symphonic Jazz International with conductor, Richard Dunscomb. Orbert Davis' Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and Jeff Lindberg's Chicago Jazz Orchestra often feature Wilsyn as their guest soloist. Her all-female jazz group, SHE, plays their original compositions and jazz standards at Chicago area colleges and jazz-clubs. As a singer-actress, Wilsyn has appeared in several musical productions including Beehive, Sophisticated Ladies, It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues, and Sheldon Patinkin's I Didn't Know What Time It Was.

Sarah Marie Young is an award winning singer, songwriter and musician. She was a semi-finalist in the 2010 Thelonious Monk Competition and the winner of the 2011 Montreux Voice Competition judged by Quincy Jones, from which she recorded her first full-length album Too Many Februaries at Balik Farm Studios in Switzerland and performed it at The Montreux Jazz Festival in 2012. After being signed by the Dutch label Snip Records in 2014, Young released and toured Europe with her second album, Little Candy Heart. Her latest album, Recess was self-produced and released in April 2016. In 2017 she was featured with Postmodern Jukebox, and in 2018 appeared on Playing For Change's "Skin Deep" video with Buddy Guy.

Founded in 1978, the Chicago Jazz Orchestra ( is the city's oldest professional jazz orchestra in continuous operation and one of the oldest jazz repertory orchestras in the country. The CJO strives to develop and promote an appreciation for and understanding of music for the American jazz orchestra as it was originally conceived, performed and recorded by jazz master composers and soloists.
?Under the direction of Founder and Artistic Director Jeff Lindberg, Chicago's premiere jazz ensemble features some of Chicago's top jazz musicians including Scott Burns, Jerry DiMuzio, Bill Overton, Eric Schneider and John Wojciechowski on saxophone; Art Davis, Victor Garcia and Doug Scharf on trumpet; Steve Duncan, Tom Garling, Luke Malewicz and Michael Young on trombone; Dan Trudell on piano; Dennis Carroll on bass; George Fludas on drums; and Michael Pettersen on guitar.

The Orchestra has performed with such artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Nancy Wilson, Louis Bellson, Herbie Hancock, Jon Faddis, Kurt Elling, Jack McDuff, Kenny Burrell, Roy Hargrove, Marquis Hill, Walter White, Joshua Redman, and many more.

The CJO performs at a wide variety of top venues across the Chicago area, from the Green Mill, to City Winery, to Andy's Jazz Club, to the Spertus Institute, to the Studebaker Theatre. In summer 2018 the CJO launched a Mondays at the Mill cocktail hour series at the Green Mill, where it played to capacity crowds every Monday night. The CJO also served as the resident orchestra for the Kennedy Center Honors Supper Dance for over 25 years, performed for a sold-out audience at the 2006 Spoleto Festival, and toured Europe twice, including Italy, Spain, Denmark and Sweden.

The CJO's recordings include Clark Terry and Jeff Lindberg's Chicago Jazz Orchestra: George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (Americana Music, 2004), nominated "Jazz Album of The Year" by the Jazz Journalist's Association and a rare "Five Star" rating by DownBeat magazine, Burstin' Out with vocalist Cyrille Aimée performing classic and original jazz arrangements, and the 2017 compilation Live from Space, with live recordings from the summer of 2016 recorded at Space in Evanston.
The Chicago Jazz Orchestra is supported by The Stare Fund, The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Joseph B. Glossberg Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, and The Saints, with media sponsorship from WDCB 90.9 FM, DownBeat Magazine and Chicago Jazz Magazine.

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