ABOUt The Band

 

The Balcony Big Band is an 18-member modern jazz ensemble that has established itself as a Pittsburgh musical institution since its inception in 1988. 

In an effort to model the jazz clubs of New York City, the owners of The Balcony club in Shadyside requested that HB Bennett, a Pittsburgh drummer who booked bands for the club, form a big band to perform on Monday nights.

Due to stage size restrictions, the original Balcony Big Band had only 12 members.

The band focused on modern jazz ensemble repertoire, performing compositions by Thad Jones, Bob Mintzer, Rob McConnell and others. 

Soon, the club expanded, and so did the band. In 1993 the Balcony Big Band recorded a studio album titled “Seasoned to Taste.” The band continued Monday night performances until the club’s closing in December 1997.  

Soon after, the Balcony Big Band moved to Foster’s in the Oakland Holiday Inn, a residency that lasted for only a few years. Next the band sought new homes at the James Street Café, Club Café, and eventually the Chapel of Blues, where they enjoyed a two-year stint until the club’s closing in 2003. See link below for story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

old.post-gazette.com/magazine/20010420balcony4.asp

The band was without venue for nearly 10 years, until November 2012, when trumpeter, Joe Herndon, reconstructed the group for a bi-weekly Monday night performances at Jergel’s in Warrendale. 

The current Balcony Big Band contains several of the group’s original 1998 members, as well as many alumni from the various phases of the band and several completely new members. The band continues to perform the music of the modern jazz ensemble repertoire, including works by the aforementioned composers as well as Quincy Jones, Charles Mingus, Bob Brookmeyer, Maria Schneider, and composer/arranger band members Ralph Guzzi, Raymond DeFade, and Steve McKnight.


Current Band Members

Saxophones:

Jason Kush
Ray DeFade
Eric DeFade 
Rick Matt 
Joe Scheller

Trumpets:

Joe Herndon 
Steve McKnight
Dave Wingenbach 
Ralph Guzzi 
Tom Henry

Trombones: 

Bob Matchett
Kevin McManus
Ross Garin
Chris Carson

Rhythm Section:

John Burgh (Piano)
Brian Stahurski (Bass)
Paul Evans (Percussion)
Dave Glover (Drums)

Vocalist:

Kelley DeFade