For 39 years, the 17-piece Savannah Jazz Orchestra has upheld the legacy of jazz in Savannah through performances at the Savannah Jazz Festival, the Duke Ellington Concert and the annual Christmas Concert.
Co-directed by Savannah Jazz Hall of Famers, Teddy Adams and Randall Reese, the orchestra’s all-stars this year include Robert Saunders, Marc Chesanow, Eric Jones, Calvin Barnes and Howard Paul.
They were accompanied by the incredible vocal stylings of Cynthia Utterbach for the Savannah-Safe Jazz Festival’s Latin & Classic Night.
Born in New Jersey, Utterbach moved to Los Angeles in the late ’70s and lived in Europe in the ’90s. She arrived in Europe to perform in the musical production “The Buddy Holly Story” in Hamburg performed throughout Europe as a jazz vocalist at festivals and clubs, eventually being cast in the Golden Globe Award-winning movie “Rosenstrasse” in 2003 and included writing lyrics for two songs on the soundtrack.
Utterbach cites as her main inspiration Sarah Vaughan, and certainly, she has a comparable warm sonority in the low register. Another influence was the highly distinctive Morgana King, who sang with a remarkable range, great tenderness, elegance and grace, excellent diction, and a strong sense of the dramatic.
She recently moved to the Savannah area, and the Hostess City is a richer community for having her.