A groan went up from the audience at the Reno Jazz Orchestra concert Friday when band director, drummer and founder Tony Savage announced he was leaving the orchestra.
“We need you guys to support this group,” Savage told audience members. “This is America’s art form.”
Savage, former 10-year drummer for Engelbert Humperdinck, assured the audience he was not departing the community, though he is rejoining Humperdinck on the road.
“I’m not leaving Reno. This is my home. I was born here. I’m third generation.”
Savage is the son of Jan Savage, once a fixture in Nevada casino cabarets.
Savage started the jazz orchestra in 1997.
“I never, not once, did I feel that it wouldn’t survive,” he said Monday. “I wouldn’t let it die, though I wanted to kill it a couple of times.”
Savage followed his announcement with a marvelous drum solo accompanied by singer Cami Thompson using her voice as a riff.
Savage said he will make appearances with the jazz orchestra on occasion and added, "New blood is what it’s all about."