Township Auditorium celebrates local jazz great Skipp Pearson in summer series

The Township Auditorium continues to promote jazz in Columbia this Tuesday with its Summer Set Jazz Series. The second performance of the season features the Nick Brewer Jazz Ensemble paying homage to the city’s well-known jazz great, Skipp Pearson.

Nick Brewer of the Nick Brewer Jazz Ensemble (photo provided).

Nick Brewer of the Nick Brewer Jazz Ensemble (photo provided)

“This particular event is very special because it is a tribute to jazz icon Skipp Pearson,” said Judy Battiste, who is on the Township Auditorium Foundation Board. “Skipp Pearson has probably done more to preserve music in this state than anyone else.”

The group includes several young musicians who have studied and performed with Pearson at Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Ale House. Battiste described Nick Brewer as a “phenomenal musician period.” Brewer plays multiple instruments including guitar with a rock band and keyboard for jazz.

Saxophonist Chris Andrews played under Pearson in middle school after his mother took him to Hunter-Gatherer to sit in on a session. Andrews received a bachelor’s degree from South Carolina State University and a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina. He is head of the Claflin University jazz combo. The ensemble also includes a bass player and a drummer.

Battiste said the group will perform songs from Pearson’s playbook.

“This is just an opportunity for the community and the Township to recognize Skipp through this tribute performance,” she said.

The Township Foundation hopes to expand Columbia’s jazz offerings and preserve the music in the community as the Summer Set Jazz Series enters its third season.

“We want to showcase jazz music and musicians in the state and region,” Battiste said. “ We also want to expand our brand as what we consider the very best best performance arts venue in the region.”

The jazz series in the past has featured musicians from Columbia, as well as Aiken and Charleston. This year’s season kicked off with the Mike Frost Band featuring Lauren Meccia on vocals and saxophone. It will end in August with the seven piece Latin band, Charleston Latin Jazz Collective, which Battiste hopes will attract Columbia’s Latin community and highlight the music.

“Latin jazz is very exciting. Latin music is very popular,” Battiste said. “It’s a different type of jazz that the community is exposed to.”

The Summer Set Jazz Series offers one performance per month from June to August, but foundation officials say they would like to expand beyond the summer and offer jazz each season.

“It’s about audience building,” Battiste said.

The Nick Brewer Ensemble show will perform from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the Township Auditorium box office on Taylor Street or at the door. The performance will take place in the Township lobby. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

“It’s just a nice pleasant activity after work to bring a couple of friends or brings new friends and enjoy some jazz music,” Battiste said.

More information about the event can be found at the Township Auditorium website.