Chris Buzzelli presents new jazz choir, CB Singers, at April 30 concert


First Unitarian Church, 3205 Glendale Ave. will host the CB Singers, a jazz choir of 11 accomplished singers, at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 30. The choir, founded by BGSU Professor Emeritus of Music Chris Buzzelli, will perform jazz arrangements 11 songs including “Both Sides Now,” “Bridge over Troubled Water/Lean on Me”, and “It’s De-Lovely.” Suggested donation $8.

Solo and tight-harmony choral music in the style of groups such as Manhattan Transfer and The New York Voices will be performed by the CB Singers under the direction of Bowling Green State University Professor Emeritus of Music, Chris Buzzelli.

For years, Buzzelli directed the Bowling Green Vocal Jazz Ensemble. When he retired last year, he fulfilled his dream for starting an independent jazz choir. The CB Singers is an intergenerational group of accomplished singers, mostly professional musicians and music teachers. It is one of very few volunteer jazz choirs in the country.
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The group’s repertoire consists mostly of Buzzelli’s arrangements of songs, many of them familiar, for example, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “So Many Stars,” “Both Sides Now,” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” Most have a small jazz combo as accompaniment, but some are sung without accompaniment. Readers can hear the BGSU Vocal Jazz Ensemble singing Buzzelli’s arrangement of “Bridge over Troubled Water,” at

Buzzelli has his own “harmonic vocabulary.” He started arranging for instrumental groups in high school. Since then, he has always arranged for the groups he was working with. “The advantage of that,” he says, “is that you get to hear your arrangement immediately.”

He had written only a handful of vocal arrangements starting in his college days, but once he started directing the Vocal Jazz Ensemble at BGSU, he really picked up the pace. He’s written about fifty vocal arrangements (or “charts” in jazz parlance) since 2003. Most of these are for choir plus rhythm section, that is, piano, drums, bass, and sometimes guitar.
“Two of my favorite song writers are Bob Dorough and Dave Frishberg, who both wrote songs for Schoolhouse Rock,” Buzzelli adds. The CB Singers will be performing Buzzelli’s arrangements of songs by both composers.

Often it’s the lyrics that attract Chris to a certain song. This was the case with Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine.” “The lyrics are rather dark,” he says, “so I tried to write an arrangement that captured that mood.”  Many of Buzzelli’s arrangements have been published, and he is currently finishing up several more for his publisher, Sound Music Publications.