February 23 – Jeff Barnhart’s Essex Eight

Concert sponsored by The Clark Group and Tower Laboratories, Ltd.

Where and When:

256 Kelsey Hill Road, Deep River, CT
Click here to view in Google maps.

Sunday, February 23, 2025

Concert begins at 3:00 pm; outer doors open at 2:00 pm; auditorium doors open at 2:30 pm.

Accessible parking, entry and seating are available.


Concert Program:

This year our Jazz Advisor Jeff Barnhart is thrilled to present his Essex Eight! Hot music of the 1920s and 1930s will be dished up by internationally celebrated musicians who he’s also proud to call friends. You’ll be amazed at the virtuosity and versatility of: Jeff Barnhart (piano, vocals); Andy Schumm (cornet, clarinet, piano); Dan Levinson (reeds); Billy Novick (reeds); Jim Fryer (trombone, euphonium, vocal); Vince Giordano (string bass, tuba, bass sax, vocal); Arnt Arntzen (banjo/guitar, vocal); and Bill Reynolds (drums). While this octet has never appeared anywhere prior to gracing our EWS stage, you’ll marvel at the synergy that makes the group sound as if they’ve been performing together for decades! Jeff Barnhart’s Essex Eight has been carefully curated to bring out the best in each of these world-class musicians. You’ll be talking about this concert for years to come.

In keeping with the spontaneity of the music and the performers, selections will be announced from the stage.


Artist Biographies:

Jeff Barnhart, piano (CT)

“The premier stride pianist in the USA.” – SIRIUS/XM Radio

Jeff Barnhart is an internationally renowned pianist, vocalist, arranger, bandleader, recording artist, ASCAP composer, educator and entertainer. Jeff shares his mastery of the classic swing, jazz, and ragtime repertoire of the early to mid-20th century with a versatility and vibrant energy that finds him constantly appearing as a soloist, band pianist, and with smaller groups — most notably Ivory&Gold® with his talented wife, flutist/vocalist Anne Barnhart — at parties, festivals, clubs, and cruises throughout the world. His unsurpassed knowledge of the history of America’s early pop styles and its best current practitioners, combined with his superior “people skills,” has awarded him the position of Musical Director for several acclaimed annual events, including the Eagles&Ivories and Templeton Ragtime and Jazz festivals, the Monterey Jazz Bash by the Bay (as co-Director), and the Essex Winter Series Jazz Concert.

Jeff has played dual piano with such jazz luminaries as Ralph Sutton, Neville Dickie, Louis Mazetier, John Sheridan, Brian Holland, and Carl Sonny Leyland. He has recorded over 120 full-length albums on, in addition to his own label, Jazz Alive Records, seversl celebrated labels including Arbors, GHB, Lake Records (UK) and Music Minus One. Reviewer Jack Rummel summed up the reason for Jeff’s popularity, averring, “When it comes to talent, speed, versatility, creativity, mastery of multiple genres and just plain entertaining zaniness, Jeff Barnhart stands alone.”

In addition to his active performance and recording schedule, Jeff is a dedicated and enthusiastic educator. His double BA’s in Music and English, combined with his MA in Education, make Jeff a formidable and entertaining force in clinic, masterclass and inspirational speaking forums and as a lecturer (with his wife) for Road Scholar with the program called, “Ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, Jazz and the Blues.”  In 2025, Jeff began a 2nd program for Road Scholar called, “Silent Film Comedy: History, Music and Laughter.”





Andy Schumm, cornet, clarinet and piano (IL)

“Eloquent trumpet prodigy”  – The Wall Street Journal

Andy Schumm is a Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger, who originally hails from Wisconsin. In Chicago, he leads the Cellar Boys, a sextet appearing every Tuesday at the world-famous Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. On a typical engagement, you can hear him on cornet, clarinet, and saxophone, but he also plays piano and drums. Now based in Chicago for more than ten years, Andy’s expertise and love for the jazz and popular music styles of the 1920s and 1930s have put him in demand for concerts and festivals all over the traditional jazz world, both domestically and internationally. He is also an avid student of the history of jazz.


Dan Levinson, reeds (NY)

“Dan Levinson makes the world a better place every time he plays.” – Will Friedwald, author/music historian/critic

The 2017 winner of Hot House Magazine’s “NYC Jazz Fans Decision” award for Best Clarinetist, Dan Levinson is equally at home as both leader and sideman, fronting his own groups as well as performing with those led by others. His roster of musical associates includes such names as Mel Tormé, Wynton Marsalis and Dick Hyman. Originally from Los Angeles, Dan has been based in New York City since 1983, although his busy schedule often takes him across the continent and around the world. He has performed in Brazil with filmmaker Woody Allen’s band, as well as in Japan, Iceland, Latvia, and 18 European countries. From 1990 to 2009 Dan toured with singer/guitarist Leon Redbone. Since 1993 he has been a member of Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, the country’s preeminent 1920s-’30s hot jazz orchestra, with whom he has appeared at Carnegie Hall, on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion radio program. Dan’s successful Benny Goodman tributes have been presented both in the U.S. with James Langton’s New York All-Star Big Band and in Europe with the Berlin-based Swing Dance Orchestra. Dan has recorded over 150 CDs, including nine under his own name. He can be heard on the soundtracks of the films The Cat’s Meow, Ghost World, The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, and Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, as well as on all five seasons of the Grammy Award-winning HBO television series Boardwalk Empire and all three seasons of the Amazon Prime Video series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Visit Dan on the web at www.danlevinson.com.


Billy Novick, reeds (MA)

Billy Novick has had a whirlwind career in music for over 50 years as a performing artist, studio musician, arranger and composer. His soulful, lyrical jazz clarinet and sax playing with The New Black Eagle Jazz Band and guitarist Guy Van Duser has impressed audiences across the world. As a studio musician, arranger and composer he has been featured on more than 350 recordings and film and TV soundtracks. Novick’s jug band adaptation of Peter and the Wolf premiered at New York’s Lincoln Center, and his two full-length ballet scores, The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises, debuted at the Kennedy Center to sold-out houses and rave reviews.


Jim Fryer, trombone, euphonium, and vocals (NY)

Jim Fryer began his professional career playing traditional jazz trombone in the Boston area during the 1970’s. He has played gigs in many disparate genres, including Broadway, Salsa, Big Band, Classical, and many others. He has performed at Festivals the world over, including the Newport Jazz Festival, Edinburgh Jazz Festival, and the Turner Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. As a longstanding member of Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, Fryer recorded on the Grammy-winning soundtrack compilation for the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

Jim is active in a variety of educational settings, continuing 35 years of school performances and workshops (currently on the roster of CT Arts for Learning), recent work at PS228 in Queens via the Louis Armstrong House Museum, and the Hot Jazz Camp NYC.


Vince Giordano, bass, tuba, bass sax, vocals (NY)

Grammy-winner, New York native and multi-instrumentalist Vince Giordano has played in New York nightclubs, appeared in films such as The Cotton Club, The Aviator, Finding Forrester, Revolutionary Road, Café Society, HBOs Boardwalk Empire and for concerts at the Town Hall, Jazz At Lincoln Center, the Newport Jazz Festival and the 92nd St Y.

Recording projects include music for films: Ghost WorldThe Savages, The Good Shepherd, Away We GoPublic Enemies, Carol, Bessie, The Knick, Sophie and the Rising Sun, Café Society, Wizard of Lies, The Promise, 2 seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Grey Gardens, Mildred Pierce, and The Joker, among others. Vince also sang in Scorsese’s film, The Irishman. Most recent recording projects include music for upcoming films Don’t Worry, Darlings, and Killers of the Flower Moon.

In 2017, Hudson West Productionscreated a documentary: Vince Giordano – There’s a Future in the Past. In the fall of 2019, the Nighthawks released their latest recording with Loudon Wainwright III titled, I’d Rather Lead a Band.

Giordano’s passion for music from the 1920s and ’30s lead him to amass an amazing collection of over 60,000 band arrangements.

Giordano sought out and studied with important survivors from the period; Whiteman’s hot arranger Bill Challis and drummer Chauncey Morehouse, as well as bassist Joe Tarto among others. Giordano’s passion, commitment to authenticity, and knowledge led him to create a sensational band of like-minded players, the Nighthawks.

Vince Giordano performs every Monday and Tuesday evenings at NYC’s Bond45 restaurant with his band, The Nighthawks.


Arnt Arntzen, banjo, guitar, and vocals (NY)

Arnt Arntzen is one of the most in-demand plectrum banjo and guitar players in the traditional jazz scene in New York City, where he has lived since 2017. In addition to leading his own trio, called Arnie and His Rhythm, he holds the guitar chair in both the Grammy Award-winning Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks as well as The Louis Armstrong Eternity Band, which performs weekly at Birdland Jazz Club.

Arnt has performed in many of the top concert halls and venues in and around NYC, including Jazz at Lincoln Center, Symphony Space and the Ear Inn. With his hard-swinging rhythm and remarkable singing voice, Arnt has helped audiences across North America get out of their seats and dance.

He and his brother Evan co-lead The Brothers Arntzen, and are featured in Three Generations of Jazz with their grandfather Lloyd and parents Georgina and Tom.

Arnt began learning music at a young age from his family, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jazz and Contemporary Guitar from Vancouver Community College in 2014. Visit Arnt at arntmusic.com.


Bill Reynolds, drums (MA)

Bill Reynolds – performer, educator, clinician – is an extremely versatile and highly sought after jazz and studio drummer. He is an alumnus of the Berklee School of Music and the Navy School of Music, where he served on the staff as percussion teacher and drummer with the renowned Faculty Lab Band.

Bill has performed all over the word with such varied artists as The New Black Eagle Jazz Band, Jerry Bergonzi, Vince Giordano, Spiegle Wilcox, Billy Novick’s Blue Syncopators, Jaki Byard, Gene Bertoncini and many others. Performances include The Gateway Jazz Festival, The Sacramento Jazz Festival, The Smithsonian Concert Series, The Wirral International Jazz Festival in England, The Hot Steam Jazz Festival, The Washington Ballet, The International Association of Jazz Record Collectors, and many more.

As a studio artist, a sampling of his soundtrack and jingle credits include the following movie and television productions: Seabiscuit, The Honeydripper, Eight Men Out, This Old House, The 2006 Academy Awards, Sex in the City, Ally McBeal, and numerous others.

Reynolds can be heard on numerous recordings by Billy Novick, The New Black Eagle Jazz Band, The Back Bay Ramblers, Keith Ingam’s Manhattan Swingtet, Leon Merian, and The Brahman Bellhops to name a few.

Bill Reynolds is currently teaching jazz drum set and small ensemble at The University of Connecticut where he has been educating young jazz musicians for 22 years.