at .Carnegie Hall

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 In the winter of 2003 Johnny Russo and Doug Robinson sent a copy of their 2002 CD, "Ithaca Our Home ", to classical music booking agent/concert promoter Peter Tiboris in New York. The result was an invitation for the East Hill Classic Jazz Quintet to be the opening act for two Jazz concerts at Carnegie Hall on April 21st, 2003.

 The East Hill Classic Jazz Quintet 

 L to R above: Drew Frech (Banjo);Brian Earle(Clarinet; Doug Robinson (Guitar); Johnny Russo (Horns); Bernie Upson (Bass)



  The East Hill Classic Jazz Quintet outside the Carnegie Hall stage door before their performances on April 21st, 2003... L to R above: Bernie Upson, Doug Robinson,
Drew Frech, Brian Earle, and Johnny Russo.


 Above: Johnny Russo with impresario Peter Tiboris at Carnegie Hall in June, 2003


"Dear Johnny:

Your performance was amazing and wonderful, just as I hoped and expected it would be..You guys did a great job. I hope you enjoyed your first Carnegie Hall appearance !! "

... Peter Tiboris
General Director & Artistic Director
Carnegie Hall Masterworks Series, 4/22/03

 Founded in Ithaca NY during the early 1980s by director Johnny Russo, the East Hill Classic Jazz Group has evolved over the last two decades into a world class musical organization. Co-directed by guitarist Doug Robinson, the band has been in continuous demand with all segments of the Cornell University Community and the greater Ithaca / Central NY Region.

In addition to the two performances at Carnegie Hall's Isaac Stern Auditorium in April of 2003 the East Hill Classic Jazz Group has presented concerts for WSKG Public Radio, Historic Ithaca's State Theatre Restoration Fund, the Taughannock Falls State Park Concert Series,
the Cornell University Kipplinger Theater Summer Series, Corning's Crystal City Jazz Festival, the Rochester International Jazz Festival, and the Syracuse Jazz Appreciation Society.

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The Carnegie Hall Band:

Johnny Russo is a graduate of the U. of R's Eastman School of Music. He was trombonist with the Eastman Wind Ensemble and Eastman Philharmonia Orchestra, where he had the privilege of performing the "Firebird Suite" under the baton of the composer, Igor Stravinsky. After a brief career in symphonic music Johnny was drawn to the freedom of jazz improvisation and eventually abandoned the symphonic world for Traditional Jazz. Strongly influenced by Classic Jazz legends Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden and Bix Beiderbecke, Johnny has been a highly respected member of the Central New York music scene since founding the East Hill Classic Jazz Group in the early 1980s.

Guitarist Doug Robinson has toured, performed and done session work for many years throughout Europe, Canada and the US with a variety of leading blues,
swing and contemporary folk artists and has been an active member of the East Hill Classic Jazz Group since its inception. He also operates Watershed Arts,
a recording, publishing, promotion and web-retail business headquartered in Ithaca NY.

Banjo virtuoso Drew Frech graduated from the Eastman School of Music where he played violin with the Eastman Philharmonia Orchestra while working his way through college entertaining on the banjo. Active in several regional symphonies as a violinist, Frech's greatest efforts are with classic jazz and the preservation of the classic banjo literature through research, clinics and festival appearances. He is the current US Open National Banjo Champion.

Harlem native Bernie Upson has played professionally since the late 1950's. His activities included Apollo appearances with diverse artists such as
Marvin Gaye and Richie Havens and tours across Africa and Europe with Illinois Jacquet and the Mamma Lue Parks Dancers. He was a part of the
Central NY music scene for over 20 years.  He passed away in August of 2014.

Native Ithacan Brian Earle holds a BA from Oberlin and a MM degree from Ithaca College. One of the leading clarinet/sax players in CNY, Brian is in constant demand for performances and recording sessions with a plethora of bands. During his long association with Peggy Haine's 'Lowdown Alligator Jazz Band' he performed alongside legendary trumpeters Billy Butterfield and Doc Cheetham. Brian is also a highly regarded teacher.

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