Debuting in 2002, the 68-member Symphonic Jazz Orchestra (SJO) is a unique hybrid ensemble dedicated to blending the worlds of jazz and classical music. The ensemble has performed throughout Southern California at such venues as the Richard & Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Royce Hall (UCLA), Walt Disney Theater (CalArts) and Marsee Auditorium.
Soloists joining the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra have included Grammy Award winning performers including George Duke, Dave Grusin, Christian McBride, Raul Midon, Jane Monheit, Lee Ritenour, Chris Brubeck, Luciana Souza, Ernie Watts, The Yellowjackets and Miguel Zenon. The SJO’s acclaimed recording “Looking Forward, Looking Back” includes two commissioned works by George Duke and Lee Ritenour, along with George Gershwin’s classic “Rhapsody in Blue.” Hosted by SJO music director Mitch Glickman, the SJO’s radio series “Beyond Symphonic Jazz” on America’s #1 jazz station KJAZZ 88.1 FM, reaches an international audience each week. The orchestra’s commissioning program has resulted in eighteen newly commissioned works from both established and emerging composers from across the country.
Music Director and SJO Founder
Award-winning composer, conductor, and producer, Mitch Glickman's diverse music career covers the fields of concert, jazz, recordings, film, and opera. He is the founder and music director of the 68-member Symphonic Jazz Orchestra, and also serves as Director of Music Programs for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Glickman formerly served as Associate Music Director of the American Jazz Philharmonic, created by composer/conductor Jack Elliott. As a composer, Glickman's concert works have been commissioned and premiered by a wide range of leading American ensembles including the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra, American Jazz Philharmonic, Oberlin Orchestra, Turtle Island String Quartet, MENC, Third Wheel, and the Angel City Chorale. His choral, chamber and symphonic works have been performed in concert halls across the country including Royce Hall, Ford Amphitheater, Walt Disney Theater at CalArts, Cerritos Center for the Arts, and Broward County Performing Arts Center. His composition “Blues & Fuguette” was a winner of the American Composers Forum – Chamber Music competition. As an arranger, he has written such diverse singers and instrumentalists as Kurt Elling, Barry Manilow, Bud Shank, Jane Monheit, Luciana Souza, Leon Redbone, Raul Midón, Keyon Harrold, and Phil Perry. His film credits include scores for the acclaimed independent films “Street of Pain” starring Steve Carell, and “Proudheart" starring Lorrie Morgan, along with such notable television series as “Cheers,” “Life Goes On,” “Night Court,” “Grammy Living Legends” and the annual “Grammy Awards” telecast. Glickman has conducted numerous concerts across the country featuring legendary artists Ray Brown, Bud Shank, Turtle Island String Quartet, Phil Woods, and The Yellowjackets, and has led such diverse ensembles as the American Jazz Philharmonic, United Kingdom Symphony Orchestra and the South Florida Youth Orchestra. He also served as Assistant Musical Director of the New York Lyric Opera's production of Monteverdi's opera “Coronation of Poppea." Glickman has produced a number of Grammy nominated recordings including The Bud Shank Sextet Salutes Harold Arlen, Young Musicians Debut Orchestra with Lalo Schifrin, the American Jazz Philharmonic for GRP Records, as well as the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra for Mack Avenue Records featuring Christian McBride, Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin and Bill Cunliffe. He has produced over 1,200 concerts across the country in his 35+-year career ranging from a concert at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to national concert tours featuring such artists as Ray Charles, Stan Getz, and Dionne Warwick, along with house concerts featuring George Duke, Al Jarreau, Dianne Reeves and Diane Schuur. Glickman produces and hosts the weekly radio series “Beyond Symphonic Jazz” heard on KJazz 88.1 FM. The 2-hour show has featured interviews with such jazz legends as Wayne Shorter, Pat Metheny, George Benson, Terri Lyne Carrington, Béla Fleck, Ramsey Lewis, Maria Schneider, Lalo Schifrin, Billy Cobham, Ian Anderson, Carla Bley, and Chick Corea. As an educator, he leads assemblies, master classes and workshops across the country, and was named the 2021 Jazz Educator of the Year by the L.A. Jazz Society. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and studied at the Schoenberg Institute in Vienna.
Jill Sowell has a background in television writing, as an executive story editor for ABC Family’s “Lincoln Heights” and as a staff writer for the CW’s “One Tree Hill.” She has volunteered and taught for several programs with a focus in education. She is the co-chair for ¡Hola Zorros!, the extra-curricular Spanish Program at Farragut Elementary School in Culver City,
Sandy hails from Los Angeles and has over 20 years of experience in arts education that includes strategic planning, teaching artist training, curriculum development, program management, and professional development for both classroom teachers and teaching artists. She is happy to join the SJO team to support teaching artists and curriculum. Sandy’s extensive experience includes work with the Arts Ed Collective at the Department of Arts and Culture, Turnaround Arts: CA, The Music Center, PS Arts, the Arts + STEM Collaborative, The Armory Center for the Arts, Los Angeles Opera, Dramatic Results, the Da Camera Society and more. In addition, Sandy has served the field of arts education by serving on the several advisory councils and boards supporting the field of teaching artistry. Just prior to her work in arts administration, she worked as a teaching artist in a middle school with young cellists and violinists. In addition, she worked in special education with Los Angeles Unified School District for over ten years. Sandy also currently doubles as a professional cellist, specializing in classical and jazz, and as a fiddler playing Scandinavian folk music for local dances and festivals.
Claire is a Connecticut native, but found herself in Los Angeles in 2017 and has loved it ever since. With a background in arts & cultural event production, social media management, graphic design, and marketing, Claire fits right in as a new addition to the SJO team. She runs her own graphic design business, Good Design LA, in addition to her work with SJO.
MUSIC ADVISORY BOARD
Dr. Peter Pelikan
REMEMBERING GEORGE DUKE
George served as Co-Music Director of Symphonic Jazz Orchestra for nearly ten years, performing in concert with the orchestra, performing benefits, as well as composing a new work for the SJO, “Dark Wood: Duke Bass Concerto for McBride.”
Following his passing in 2013, the SJO set out to record his 22-minute epic concerto featuring bassist Christian McBride performing on upright, electric and fretless bass. The CD is available by clicking here.
Music Director Mitch Glickman remembers, “George was so incredibly multi-faceted. Brilliant recording artist, gifted producer, outstanding composer/arranger – but what made him so unique is that his talents crossed so many genres. Most people don’t know about his Gershwin recording, or his orchestral work for the Montreux Jazz Festival “Muir Woods Suite” or his concerto written for Christian McBride and the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra.”
“There are so very few George Dukes in the world. An amazingly giving, warm, open, and positive person. Beyond his extraordinary talents was an even more extraordinary person. We have lost a very special soul.”
To learn more about George and his discography, please visit GeorgeDuke.com