The BLOG: Culture

Big-band jazz is back on Mondays in the Providence area

Big-band jazz has a new home in the Providence area.

The John Allmark Jazz Orchestra, which had been out of a regular home since Bovi’s Tavern in East Providence closed in November, is taking up residence at The Met, just over the border from Providence in Pawtucket, R.I., starting Monday, Jan. 25.

John Allmark (Courtesy of the Met)

John Allmark (Courtesy of The Met)

The ensemble will play there every Monday, starting at 9 p.m., said Jack Reich, who books The Met and its sister club in Providence, Lupo’s.

Even though both the Met and Lupo’s predominantly feature pop and rock acts, bringing in the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra was a natural fit, Reich said.

“Blues and jazz and roots music is our first love, so we’re very happy to be able to feature a great jazz band like the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra,” Reich said.

The Met will be a larger venue for Allmark, who has run the big band for more than 20 years and was ensconced at Bovi’s every Monday night from 1999 until it closed. The Met, which is in the arts district of Pawtucket, can accommodate as many as 500 patrons. It will be set up with seating for roughly 250 on Monday nights, Reich said.

Allmark, a gifted arranger as well a jazz trumpeter, was born in England but has lived in the U.S. for the last 34 years. He toured the world with Liza Minnelli before forming his big band.

The band has two different books of arrangements, depending on the size of the band that night. Some are for a traditional 16-piece big band – four trumpets, four trombones, five saxes, plus piano, bass, drums. A smaller book, modeled after the instrumentation that trumpeter Maynard Ferguson used in the early 1960s, is for a 12- or 13-piece band.

Many of the arrangements are penned by Allmark himself and Mike Abene, a New-York based arranger who formerly worked with the WDR Big Band in Germany. Originals from the Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson big bands, as well as some from saxophonist Bob Mintzer, are also on the bandstand. Tunes are from the likes of Oliver Nelson, Thad Jones, John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard and Dizzy Gillespie.

Although the personnel varies, depending on who is available, mainstays in the band include Bob Bowlby on alto saxophone, tenor saxophonist Bill Vint, Ross Hill and Tom Kirinski, as well as Allmark, on trumpet, Artie Montanaro and Jeff Hoyer on trombone, pianist Eugene Maslov, bassist Bryan Rizzuto and drummer Vinny Pagano.

The Met is in the Hope Artist Village, 1005 Main Street, Pawtucket, R.I. 401-729-1005. Doors open at 8 p.m., with the show at 9 p.m. Admission is $8. Parking is available on-street or in nearby free lots. For more information, including directions and details about parking, go to

Tom Nutile

Tom Nutile

Tom Nutile can be reached at [email protected].