The Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library is gearing up for its annual Black History Program in February, and this year, the community is in for a real treat. CRCPL, in conjunction with Chillicothe City Schools, the Ross County NAACP, and the City of Chillicothe, will bring the Urban Jazz Coalition to town for a free community concert.
The Urban Jazz Coalition has electrified audiences with their live performance ensembles for 25 years. Their sound brings an energetic blend of R&B, jazz, and fusion, and they’ve performed at many prominent jazz festivals throughout the country. They’ve had multiple songs achieve “Top 30” status on contemporary jazz charts throughout the years.
The band’s music has been featured on network television programming, international film soundtracks, and national advertising campaigns. In addition to their notoriety as a self-contained group, the Urban Jazz Coalition has also become one of the most in-demand backing groups in the smooth jazz genre, having performed as sidemen for a number of top contemporary jazz artists.
The band has strong roots in Ross County as well, with band members Phil Raney (bassist and band leader) and Rich “Rico” Adams (drummer) having grown up in Massieville and Chillicothe, respectively. Both are graduates of Chillicothe High School. Other band members include Hector Maldonado (percussionist), Brandon Howard (keyboardist), Richard Randolph (saxophonist), and Duane Tribune (guitarist).
Raney, the founding member of the Urban Jazz Coalition, had his musical interest awakened while listening to his Aunt Edna play piano with her church choir. He later studied violin and trumpet, and became a self-taught guitarist in his teenage years. Raney picked up the electric bass while studying harmony and music theory at Ohio University. During that time, he gained valuable studio experience working as a DJ and audio engineer for WOUB-FM. After college, he began developing his production skills while recording sessions at the world-renowned Recording Workshop in Massieville. From there, he began his career as a songwriter and producer, performing alongside gospel and jazz greats like Andre’ Crouch and Roy Porter. Before returning to Ohio in 1994, Raney produced the critically-acclaimed Reflections by The P. Raney Coalition. The music on that album later became a part of the soundtrack for the Walt Disney film Flight of the Navigator.
Adams, who was born and raised in Chillicothe in the late 60s, was heavily influenced by his father, a saxophonist, and his mother, a pianist. His contribution to his family’s musical heritage started by drumming on pots and pans. At age 8, he began to play drums formally at his family’s church. In 1992, Adams was invited to serve as the drummer at his home church, New Covenant Believers. He played there for the next 16 years and continued to grow as a musician. His gift for composing was eventually put to use on a CD produced by the church, and the exposure gained him further musical opportunities, including playing with artists such as Chip Davis and Company’s Christian jazz group, and opening for and accompanying many renowned gospel artists. In 2001, he became the drummer for NexLevel, a Columbus-based smooth jazz band. NexLevel enjoyed success opening for several major jazz artists and was featured as the headliner at the Columbus Jazz and Ribs Festival for multiple years.
The Black History Program will be held at the Chillicothe Middle/High School Auditorium, 425 Yoctangee Parkway, on Thursday, February 20. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the CHS Jazz Band and Symphonic Choir will perform in the commons area, where attendees can purchase concessions and mingle with the community organizations and student groups that are supporting the event. The Urban Jazz Coalition will take the stage at 7 p.m. and play two 30-minute sets with a15-minute intermission at 7:30 p.m.
For more information about this year’s Black History Program, call the library at 740-702- 4145, or visit crcpl.org.