Bright Moments to perform in DAI jazz series

Local combo seeks to educate the community about the music.



The Bright Moments Quintet is on a mission to share their mutual affection for jazz music by building a community on and off the stage.

The quintet, along with bandleader Bill Burns, is scheduled to perform in a Bob Ross Auto Group Jazz & Beyond Series concert at Dayton Art Institute on Thursday, April 14.

“To me, music has always been about love,” Burns said. “No matter what the song is, there has to be some love in your heart to make it resonate. That’s what we’re here for.”

It’s a fitting undertaking considering the Dayton-based group is filled with players that are also music educators. Burns (baritone saxophone) teaches music for Centerville City Schools and at Sinclair Community College. Dr. Brian Cashwell (piano) teaches at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Miami University. Chris Berg (bass) is an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton and Central State University. Jim Leslie (drums) is an artist in residence at the University of Dayton, where he directs the University Jazz Band, the Marching Band and other ensembles.

“Bright Moments has been a project of love for eight years or so now,” Burns said. “Everybody in the group comes with their own talents. It’s so great to hear them but at the same time, it’s not about them, it’s about the music.

“It’s inspiring to work with guys like that because it prompts you to keep listening, write more and to explore more creative channels,” he continued. “It reminds you that music is about the journey, not the destination. It’s the magic along the way that really keeps us thirsty.”

Gem City transplant

Burns was born in New Jersey and grew up in New City, N.Y. He has lived in the Miami Valley since coming to the area for college in 1992. He attended the University of Dayton and then continued his graduate studies at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

“I thought I was going to go back east but my better half had different thoughts,” Burns said. “I stuck around and I’ve really enjoyed it. I was very fortunate to fall into some really good regional bands coming out of undergraduate like the Dayton Jazz Orchestra.

“I was able to start gigging and playing out at places like Pacchia,” Burns continued. “I got really lucky. I was in the right place at the right time. There were a lot of really good players around and that really sealed the deal.”

In addition to Bright Moments, Burns currently performs with the Miami Valley Klezmer Ensemble and the Jack Garrett Band.

“You can put a really good band together in Dayton and there are so many good opportunities to play,” he said “I certainly love the great jazz scenes that exist in New York, Chicago and other cities but it’s great to be part of the Dayton music community.”


“We’ve done Jazz & Beyond before and I’m really glad Dayton Art Institute is still doing it,” Burns said. “It’s a great series. It’s kind of a diamond in the rough for live jazz in general in Dayton so it’s great they’re keeping it going.”

For the matinee performance in DAI’s Mimi and Stuart Rose Auditorium, Bright Moments will be joined by vocalist Pamela Mallory.

“Felita LaRock, the vocalist we’ve done the most work with, was unavailable but Pamela is a world class vocalist in her own right,” Burns said. “In all honesty, and Felita would definitely agree with this, Pamela has more jazz influences.

“Pam is more of what you’d expect from a jazz singer,” he continued. “She’s somebody in the style of Sarah Vaughn or Ella Fitzgerald. She’s more under the jazz umbrella but the beauty of jazz is you can have multi-faceted influences.

Jazz residency

Since last August, Bright Moments has performed at Hidden Gem Music Club in Centerville the first Sunday of every month. The group’s next appearance is Sunday, May 1.

“Every month, we try to have a different theme,” Burns said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m not sure what will be doing for May. We’ll figure out our theme as we get closer. We’ve had ones celebrating Charlie Parker, Max Roach and George Gershwin. In February, we celebrated Black History Month and April is Jazz Appreciation Month so we just did a tribute to various artists.

“We’re only there once a month but Hidden Gem is doing jazz every Sunday,” Burns added. “They’re getting a nice mix of people. We’ve been hosting a jam session during the second set to encourage younger cats to come out, sit in and have some fun. We want to make it a community thing and it’s actually getting a good following so it’s been really cool.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at


Who: Bob Ross Auto Group Jazz & Beyond Series presents the Bright Moments Quintet with vocalist Pamela Mallory

Where: Mimi and Stuart Rose Auditorium at Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton

When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 14. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Cost: Free for museum members. Nonmember admission is $15 adults, $10 seniors 60 and older, active military and groups of 10 or more, $5 college students 18 and older with ID and youth ages 7 to 17

More info: 937-223-5277 or

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