Usually, someone has to die for you to get into a big band,” explains Katie Kleyla, the vampy chanteuse at the front of the New Providence Big Band. Opportunities for brassy jazz vocalists can be hard to come by, but fortunately, in this case there were no fatalities; Katie simply linked up with a family friend. Trombonist Steve Leonard and Trumpeter Pete Williams formed NPBB in 2012, but they had been playing together in a variety of jazz bands since 1967. Steve had known Katie since she was a kid, and she was looking for a change from the cover bands in which she had been singing. “If I had to sing ‘Superstition’ one more time I was going slit everyone’s throat,” she jokes, adding, “And I love me some Stevie.” Katie had fronted a big band at URI, which made her a rare find. “This is not a format a lot of people have heard, let alone can excel in,” notes Pete. Now the band boasts 18 members, and they crank out standards like “In the Mood,” “Birth of the Blues,” and Katie’s personal favorite, “All That Jazz.” (Her bandmates say she owns that one.) Though it can be tough to find venues that can accommodate a band of their size, NPBB has been build- ing a following at places like The Met and Roots Café. “The rush you get from 18 pieces is unbelievable,” Steve says. You can experience that rush yourself at Venda on July 24, or the North Scituate Gazebo on August 28.
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