Razzer’s Jazzers bring sounds of Dixieland to the Amp

The six-man ensemble Razzer’s Jazzers is ready to fill the Amphitheater with the free-form, swinging sounds of traditional Dixieland jazz.

Razzer’s Jazzers will be playing at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Amp in one of the last events of the season.

Ralph “Razz” Rasmusson, the clarinet player who put the band together with trombone player Peter Pepke, said the band has been playing together for three years, and all the band members have vast and varied musical backgrounds.

“Everybody in the band has a huge array of experiences over our careers,” he said.

Their “mutual connection,” Rasmusson said, is Southern Pride Jazz, a band out of North Carolina that they have all played in.

“They’re delightful people to play with,” he said.

Upright bass and tuba player Jay Miles has been playing in Las Vegas with drummer Alan Dale for over a decade and Miles has a “pretty unusual rendition” of a Dixieland song he plans to perform, Rasmusson said.

“He’s going to do a very interesting performance of ‘Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans,’” he said.

Tom Roberts, the pianist, has arranged and performed music for the film “The Aviator,” Rasmusson said. His current project involves orchestrating the music of the silent films of Charlie Chaplin.

“Tom Roberts is a spectacular pianist that played with Vince Giordano and the Night Hawks,” Rasmusson said. “He’ll be doing several ragtime piano pieces.”

Some members of the band have played at prestigious venues over their careers, he said.

Trombone player Pepke has played in venues that range from the Olympics in Oslo, Norway, to the Super Bowl in Miami, Florida, Rasmusson said. Trumpet player Jon Mathis is a Baltimore native and graduate of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.

Rasmusson himself has played an Elvis-inspired show at Shea’s Buffalo and teaches music at Jamestown Community College, he said. He has played locally in Bemus Point for more than 20 years.

Rasmusson said he enjoys Dixieland jazz because of the freedom it allows him on the clarinet.

“It lets you play anything you can think of on the clarinet,” he said. “It’s very free form in a lot of ways, very appealing for me and same thing for the other guys in the band, they really get a kick out of just playing together.”

Rasmusson compared playing with the band to a game of pickup basketball, where each member trades ideas and just has “fun playing.”

“It’s just a good time for the band, which means it’s going to be a good time for the audience,” he said.