Rappahannock News

All-woman jazz orchestra kicks off Castleton in Performanc­e


Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes, the only allwomen jazz orchestra in the Washington, D.C., area, kicks off the fall-winter season of Castleton in Performanc­e at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20, with a concert ranging from big-band renditions of jazz classics to world premieres of new music at Castleton’s Theatre House.

Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes is a full jazz orchestra composed completely of women, a group that came together in 2010. Since that time, they’ve been entertaini­ng audiences with jazz sounds of the past, present and future. The concert will benefit the music department of Fauquier High School, in Warrenton, enabling the school and its 150 student musicians to benefit from new sheet music, guest conductors and master classes.

The concert at Castleton includes old-time favorites and new music, “which might even include a new tune composed on the spot,” Gunn says. The former includes tunes made famous by Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Thad Jones. The latter is by composers from D.C., New York and Australia, including compositio­ns by band members as well as groove arrangemen­ts of popular tunes, such as an arrangemen­t of a Radiohead tune that switches between 12/8 and 10/8 each measure.

“Our group is all about mentoring women and young people in jazz,” says Gunn. “We want to uplift women in jazz, to create networking opportunit­ies for female and young jazz performers, and to provide inspiring role models for the future generation­s of jazz.”

“Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes have a way of bringing together generation­s of jazzloving audience members and of attracting new, young audiences to this classic American style of music,” says Burnett Thompson, director of programmin­g for Castleton in Performanc­e.

Trombonist and bandleader Gunn is also heard on stage frequently with Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra and has performed with Harry Watters, Jim Carroll, Kenny Rittenhous­e, Billy Taylor, Wycliffe Gordon and other jazz greats. She is the music technology teacher at Woodbridge Senior High School in Woodbridge, Virginia.

Castleton in Performanc­e’s 2015-2016 season includes an Oct. 11 show by Margaret Leng Tan — named “queen of the toy piano” by the New York Times — performing on toy pianos and all manner of toy instrument­s. Nov. 8 brings the Smithsonia­n Jazz Masterwork­s Orchestra, joined by Ellington biographer Edward Hasse, in a multi-media performanc­e about the life, times and music of Duke Ellington.

Tickets for the Sept 20 benefit concert ($20 to $40) available at 866-974-0767 or castletonf­estival.org.

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