Holly Tucker and WJO mix country and jazz on the Saturday show | Music

Country music comes naturally to Waco singer and songwriter Holly Tucker, but she finds pop and jazz can also be within her reach.

Tucker, a Lorena native and Baylor University graduate with a performing career in country music, will collaborate with the Waco Jazz Orchestra as the band’s guest performer at its spring concert Saturday night at the Hippodrome in Wako.

Jazz, pop and country may seem like separate and different genres to some, but they’ll find considerable overlap and mixing on Saturday’s show, including Big Band arrangements of two of Tucker’s own country songs.

Tucker, 29, and the 17-piece Waco Jazz Ensemble found common ground during rehearsals for the show. “It’s really cool. There’s a lot of room for creativity (in jazz) and honestly there’s a lot of room for mistakes, but in jazz you can take those mistakes and make something out of them. “, she said. “There is so much room for grace.”

WJO manager Noah Alvarado found mutual appreciation when the players heard Tucker sing in person. “At the first rehearsal, everything clicked. Jazz is a bit wide open anyway. To be honest, it seems a bit normal,” he said.

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The collaboration came about at the invitation of Waco saxophonist and WJO player Greg Bashara, who had taught Tucker saxophone when she was a student at Lorena School. Bashara’s sister-in-law, Mary Bashara, also taught Tucker piano when she was growing up, so there was a familiar and cozy story behind the invitation. This combination laid the foundation for the music Tucker would later pursue as a career, she said.

Tucker’s first rehearsal with the jazz band was a surprise for the country singer-songwriter: WJO player Dave Wild had created instrumental arrangements for two of Tucker’s songs, “You’re in Texas” and “Rhythm of You”, both will perform on Saturday.

“It was amazing. I’ve never heard my songs like this,” she said.

Saturday’s program will feature Tucker singing nine songs, including “Sway,” “Crazy Fever,” “At Last” and “Superstition” along with three WJO instrumentals.

Tucker recently returned from a trip to Nashville where she recorded more songs for a record project that the COVID-19 pandemic put on hold. She had released seven songs from the first part of the album in 2019, but the pandemic and its hiatus have stalled sales and promotions while delaying its follow-up. She has since recovered from that financial blow and is coming back to her end, with a new single slated for release in July and the rest of the recording project slated for the fall.

For those who remember Tucker in large part for his competitive run in 2013 in the televised national singing competition “The Voice,” Saturday’s concert will catch those fans up to major changes this year. She married Spencer Brenner over Valentine’s Day weekend earlier this year – she will keep her stage name to perform, she says – and she shares her performing career with work as a member of the staff at his home church, First Baptist Church of Woodway.

She will continue to sing country music, but Saturday’s collaboration with the jazz band is a separate collaboration that only takes place live, she said. “This is a one-of-a-kind, one-night-only experience. It won’t happen again for a very, very long time,” she said.

About Roy B. Westling

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