As a performer and a person, Gwen is a delight, and the music that pours–actually, gushes–from her band is stirring and refreshing.
She brings such a vitality and warmth to the stage that even the coldest of audiences starts to melt and becomes energized.
I sometimes worry that she and her band did more to better bilateral relations than I ever could have hoped to achieve as the US ambassador!
In late 2003, Gwen Hughes played a series of free concerts around inland Croatia, a country still in recovery from the wars of the 1990s. Slovenian drummer Tomi Purich was a part of Gwen’s backing band for the Croatian tour. The two discussed the possibility of some shows in Slovenia in the summer of 2004…and a band was born. Now touring for its 11th consecutive year, Gwen Hughes & Mono play a crowd-pleasing blend of funky American soul, jazz and the band’s original compositions.
The band is truly international: Gwen Hughes is from the Southern United States; from Slovenia: Tomi Purich on drums; Ales Ogrin on keyboards; Janez Skaza on guitar; and from Italy: Giovanni Toffoloni on bass; and Angelo Chiocca on saxophone. In addition to their work with Gwen, the European band members have also backed up renowned EU artists like Jan Plestenjak, Stef Burns, Elvis Stanic and Nina Puslar.
GH & Mono are a festival favorite, including The Lent Festival (Maribor, SLO); Opicine-Tabor Series (Trieste, IT); Jazz u Lapidariju (Porec, CRO)…
A club favorite: Theresa Café (Deutchlandsberg, AUS); Perla Casino (Nova Gorica, SLO); Rogoz Theatre (Varazdin, CRO), with many more…
And universities love MONO: Hisa Mladih (Ajdovscina, SLO) and Club KMS (Lubljana, SLO), among others…
In 2015, the band was honored to tour on behalf of the US Embassy in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The original show was titled “The Soul n’ Jazz Legacy” and featured Gwen and James Thompson, an American vocalist and saxophonist based in Bologna, IT. Gwen Hughes joins the distinguished company of Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck and Louis Armstrong in her collaboration with the State Department to represent the USA — through music — overseas.
After years of performing together, the band released released its first CD in 2013. The recording is a collection of concert favorites called “Dancing in the Moonlight” (Redwarbler Music/Kulturno Drustvo Obala Jazz).
The CD was produced by Tomi Purich and Gaber Radojevic.