Our History and Mission
The Reno Jazz Orchestra is a 17-piece contemporary big band based in Northern Nevada. The band was formed in 1997 by musicians who have performed with acts such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Elvis Presley, Natalie Cole, and Luciano Pavarotti and traveled the world with legendary performers.
Our mission is to build a greater appreciation of jazz in Northern Nevada by providing outstanding big band performances, promoting the artistry of Reno Jazz Orchestra musicians through a variety of ensembles, and supporting jazz education through a mentorship program in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. All combined, we contribute to the vibrancy, diversity, cultural vitality, and quality of our community’s artistic life.
Oh, That Big Band Sound!
The motivation behind the Reno Jazz Orchestra is the desire to create good music in the grand tradition of the jazz big band stage performance. It's a motivation based upon the simple love of that grand sound and the rush and wonder of playing 17 pieces to a packed house.
Now, that's heaven.
We who love jazz and the big band sound are lucky to live in Reno. The city has made a name for itself with jazz, and some would argue, the strongest tradition here is the big band sound. It's an intense love, this love of music, which has made Reno a magnet for world class performers. In the past, this thriving city had the demand, the means, and the incentive to build intimate, high class showrooms in its downtown casinos, specifically for the big band productions. The city became known for its extravagant shows. In fact, at its peak, the world's largest performance stage was built in Reno. Several of these spectacular showrooms still exist and they make playing live an especially satisfying treat. But whatever venue, historical or modern, the demand for big band jazz continues, and we love playing for our audiences and we love our fans.
The RJO is also very much tied to the world of education. In a city that understands the importance of teaching and learning, and so close to a school with a renowned program in Jazz and Improvisational Music, the Reno Jazz Orchestra has its good share of educators among its ranks.
Reno has an important place in the history of jazz, and the history of music. We jam in the cool shade of giants.
With a shared interest among its members, the RJO's mission is the development of cultural values -- in this case the perpetuation of jazz music, jazz music education, the living history of jazz culture. We as musicians, as an orchestra, are very interested in producing the art form that would fulfill that goal. This means not only live performances, but also intensive teaching programs, such as our annual Jazz in the Schools. The Orchestra is in a particularly wonderful position in that we find ourselves gathered together as the result of a long historical trend that continues to celebrate the big band as not only a form of wild and wonderful entertainment - fun to play and fun to hear - but as a true form of American music with a genuine place in its history, something extremely worthy to pursue.
We aim to continue to create an atmosphere that perpetuates an appreciation for jazz music and jazz history, such that from our artistic and educational efforts comes musical inspiration, and as a result, a perpetual generation of accomplished local musicians making everyone happy with their smooth sounds.
Just the enjoyment of performing to a crowd of fun loving people will keep the RJO returning to the stage. The satisfaction in helping student musicians grow into professional creative artists also keeps us going. We hope to promote an ever increasing appreciation for jazz music and jazz culture in northern Nevada. What better way than to play the music and make it happen?
Thank you for your support!
124 West Taylor Street
Reno, Nevada 89509