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Out & About: Holiday jazz is great at The Westmoreland

Shirley McMarlin
| Monday, December 24, 2018 1:33 a.m.

Jazz music has always been a big draw at The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg.

It’s no surprise, then, that in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season, it was a full room for Holiday Jazz With Benny Benack II on Dec. 19.

Renowned Pittsburgh saxophonist Benack and his band delighted listeners with jazzy takes on seasonal favorite tunes, along with a lot of other straight-up smooth jazz.

The Benack name has a great deal of cachet in the music world. The first Benny Benack was a trumpeter and staple of the Pittsburgh jazz scene in the ’60s and ’70s, fondly remembered for playing “Beat ’em, Bucs” to rally Pirates fans at Forbes Field.

There’s also a Benny Benack III, son of Benack 2.0 and also a jazz trumpeter and vocalist based in New York City.

It was nostalgia as much as the music that drew Kay Elder and son Jay Elder , both of Latrobe, to jazz night at The Westmoreland. The Elders were neighbors of the Benacks back in the day in Clairton.

“He was quite a character,” Jay Elder said of the Benack family patriarch, while declining to elaborate further.

The Dec. 19 gig was part of the museum’s quarterly Great American Music Series, which showcases a variety of homegrown music forms. Next up will be pop country from Willow Hill on March 20.

Information on the series is available at thewestmoreland.org .

Seen at The Westmoreland: Keith and Shirleah Kelly, Fran Lynch, Tina Wodzinski, Jim and Jane Nescot, Michaelene McWhinney, Jan Nigrelli, Sheila Rice, Linda Blum, Sharon Sikora, Tom and Anne Sonnet, Lee and Ethel Hamilton, Frank and Mary Ann Salotti, Bill and Joan Stenger, Tim and Nina Edgar, Barry and Marian DeBone, James Lynch, Terry and Becky Campbell, Randall Oaks and Kaitlyn Zurcher.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, smcmarlin@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shirley_trib.


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Fran Lynch (left) and Linda Blum, both of Greensburg, pose for a photo during the Westmoreland’s Great American Music holiday jazz featuring Benny Benack II and his band held Wednesday at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg on Wednesday evening, December 19, 2018.
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Jazz enthusiasts (from left) John Duff of Hempfield, Jan Esway of Hempfield, Jim Lynch of Greensburg and Barry DeBone of Greensburg gather for a photo during the Westmoreland’s Great American Music holiday jazz featuring Benny Benack II and his band held Wednesday at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg on Wednesday evening, December 19, 2018.
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From left: Becky and Terry Campbell of Greensburg join Kay Elder and son Jay Elder, both of Latrobe for a photo during the Westmoreland’s Great American Music holiday jazz featuring Benny Benack II and his band held Wednesday at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg on Wednesday evening, December 19, 2018.
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Benny Benack II (center) of Pittsburgh and his band, provide musical entertainment during the Westmoreland’s Great American Music holiday jazz featuring Benny Benack II and his band held Wednesday at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg on Wednesday evening, December 19, 2018.
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Tina and Dr. Steven Wodzinski of Unity pose for a photo during the Westmoreland’s Great American Music holiday jazz featuring Benny Benack II and his band held Wednesday at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg on Wednesday evening, December 19, 2018.
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Mary Margaret Fisher (left) of Penn Hills and Eileen Yeager of Murrysville pose for a photo during the Westmoreland’s Great American Music holiday jazz featuring Benny Benack II and his band held Wednesday at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg on Wednesday evening, December 19, 2018.
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Bill and Joan Stenger of Penn Township enjoy jazz music during the Westmoreland’s Great American Music holiday jazz, featuring Benny Benack II and his band held Wednesday at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg on Wednesday evening, December 19, 2018.
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Benny Benack II (center) of Pittsburgh and his band, provide musical entertainment during the Westmoreland’s Great American Music holiday jazz featuring Benny Benack II and his band held Wednesday at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg on Wednesday evening, December 19, 2018.
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