The Amherst Jazz Orchestra is a 17-piece professional big band whose mission is to explore and preserve the music of America's original art form. The membership includes the finest jazz musicians in the area. The group has had distinguished guest conductors such as Gunther Schuller, Herb Pomeroy, David Berger and Andrew Homzey. The AJO was in residence at the Amherst College Duke Ellington Symposium.
Consistently voted "BEST JAZZ GROUP IN THE PIONEER VALLEY" in the Valley Advocate poll, the AJO was created in 1996 by musical director, Dave Sporny. The music presented, from rare and historical big band works to some of the newest original music for contemporary jazz orchestra, makes the Amherst Jazz Orchestra a unique ensemble.
Over the years, guest artist have included Karrin Allyson, George Garzone, Jeff Holmes Quartet, Shelia Jordon, Jamie Baum, Claudio Roditi, Lew Soloff, Chris Vadala, Peter Madsen, John Fedchock, Peter Erskine, David Golostchokin, Greg Abate, Yusef Lateef, Yellowjackets, Ernie Watts, Rufus Reid, Steve Turre, Marvin Stamm, Arturo O'Farrill, and John Abercrombie
Dave Sporny: Band Leader and founder
Dave Sporny is the founder and musical director of the Amherst Jazz Orchestra. In 2004 the International Association for Jazz Education presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Dave has recorded 12 albums and 17 CD's for RCA, Brownstone, Seabreeze, Jazz Masters and Original Cast Recordings. He is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
After earning his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Illinois, Dave Sporny became the Low Brass Instructor at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. During his 16 years at Interlochen he founded the Jazz Studies programs at the Academy and at the National Music Camp. He led the Dave Sporny Big Band and the Interlochen Jazz Quintet while being an active performer throughout the Midwest. Since coming to the University in 1982, he has been a frequent recitalist, clinician and freelance trombonist in New England.
Being equally comfortable in both classical and jazz traditions, Mr. Sporny has appeared in concert halls throughout the world including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Tanglewood and Ravinia. Tours with various ensembles have taken him to South America, Europe, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Japan and Russia. He has performed with the Chicago Little Symphony, the Northwood Orchestra, Opera North, the Springfield and Hartford Orchestras, Ancora Chamber Ensemble, and the Corporate Brass. In 1997 he was chosen as principal trombone for the Festival Orchestra of Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
Dave has performed as a member of the Silk Road Ensemble, with Yo Yo Ma. He has also performed with The Tonight Show Orchestra, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey Orchestras, Les Elgart, Joe Williams, Frank Sinatra Jr., Nancy Wilson, Maureen McGovern, Aretha Franklin, Andy Williams, Dave Brubeck, Marian McPartland, Max Roach, Billy Taylor, Slide Hampton, J.J. Johnson, to name a few.