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SJO, Carruthers reunite for holiday performance

Fri., Dec. 2, 2011

The Christmastime combination of Charlotte Carruthers and the 17-piece Spokane Jazz Orchestra has become a tasty December tradition in Spokane.

They’re teaming up again for “Home for the Holidays,” the jazz orchestra’s annual holiday concert on Saturday, featuring a lineup of seasonal tunes. Tom Molter will direct the jazz orchestra.

Carruthers is one of the busiest jazz singers in Seattle – and has been a Spokane favorite since, well, since she was a kid.

Carruthers used to sit at the knee of her father, the late and legendary Spokane jazz pianist Arnie Carruthers, and sing along as he played Ellington and Basie tunes. By 1973, she started singing with her father at his gigs at the Lamplighter Inn. She also sat in with him at the old Louis D’s at the Davenport Hotel and at Hobart’s Jazz Club.

Soon she developed her own career, singing at the Spokane House and other hot jazz spots in town. In 1989, she took off for New York, where she sang at Manhattan jazz clubs, and at Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall with the New York Choral Society (she’s an accomplished classical singer as well).

She moved to Eugene, Ore., in 1993 and to Seattle in 1998.

Since then, she has been a frequent and popular visitor to Spokane and has been particularly sought after by the SJO. She appears in two tracks on “It’s About Time,” the SJO’s first CD from 2004.

She once said that whenever she gets an invitation from the SJO, she says to herself, “What did I do to get so lucky?” The Spokane Jazz Orchestra is the nation’s oldest continually performing community-supported professional jazz orchestra, operating since 1975.

This concert will follow the same formula from past SJO holiday shows: Traditional tunes with jazzy arrangements.

This concert might have a slightly more “pop” feel than the typical SJO concert, Molter said. The band will do an instrumental arrangement of “Let It Snow” and an intriguing tune titled “Yo Tannenbaum,” a “hip version” of “O Christmas Tree.”

Carruthers will sing a medley of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “Here Comes Santa Claus,” which includes musical “quotes” from such classics as “Sing, Sing, Sing.” Carruthers will also sing a jazzy version of “Jingle Bells” and a gospel arrangement of “O Holy Night,” by SJO pianist Brent Edstrom.

Carruthers adheres to a busy singing schedule in Seattle, as a member of the classical Cantare Vocal Ensemble. She also performs with the MachOne Jazz Orchestra, the John Holte Radio Rhythm Orchestra and a quartet called Jazz in the Corner.


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