MURRAY, Ky. — At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25, historic Lovett Auditorium will be swinging with the sounds of three big bands and two small groups as well as a live radio broadcast on 91.3 WKMS, as it would have been made from a remote location in the 1930s or 1940s.
Dr. Todd E. Hill, director of jazz studies at Murray State University, has invited the vocal talents of radio announcer Mark Welch, plus the duo of Dr. Trey and Dr. Vee (played by Dr. Robert Valentine and Dr. Robert McGaughey, respectively) to add comedic bits and announcements to set the mood of a live broadcast from the big band era. Although not limiting their repertoire to music of the 1930s and 40s, the bands will concentrate on materials in the swing style and feature standards by student vocalists Melanie Davis, senior from Mt. Vernon, Indiana, and Kayla Litte, junior from Murray.
Featured selections during the evening will include “On a Clear Day,” “Tall Cotton,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Sway,” “The Way I Feel About You,” “Don’t Know Why,” “Hit the Ground Running” and “The First Circle” by the Jazz Orchestra; “Switch in Time,” “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” and “I Remember You” by the Jazz Band; “Foot Tappin’ Time” by the Jazz Lab Big Band; and “Blue Bossa” and “Have You Met Miss Jones?” by the Blue and Gold Jazz Combos.
“Preparing to do this has been a challenge for the students — timing becomes everything,” said Hill. “I think there will be something here for everybody to enjoy — and although we want folks to listen via WKMS, we are looking for a big ‘studio’ audience to help lead the applause to really give it the feel of an old-fashioned broadcast. We want people to come and sit down toward the front, for the ‘give and take’ needed to pull in the radio audience.”
While this is only the fifth year for the Swing Into Spring broadcast, the concert featuring all MSU Jazz Ensembles was begun Dr. Hill’s first year on faculty at Murray State University.
“The folks at WKMS really do an outstanding job with production. Justin Patton, recording engineer for the department of music, handles the difficult job of mixing sound on ‘the fly’ as it is happening,” said Hill. “With everyone’s help, we have managed to stay between thirty and ninety seconds accuracy on a ninety minute broadcast. That’s exceptionally tough in live broadcasting!”
Under Hill’s direction, the Murray State Jazz Orchestra has been featured by invitation at the Kentucky Music Educators Conference (three times), the prestigious Elmhurst College Jazz Festival (three times) and the famed Mid-West International Band and Orchestra Clinic. The group has recorded and released two albums since 2014.
Dr. Hill will direct the Jazz Orchestra and small combos, while graduate assistant Mr. Jonathan Nash of Paris, Tennessee will direct the MSU Jazz Band and Jazz Lab Big Band on the broadcast.
The public is invited, and there is no admission fee. Those who come early will enjoy a pre-concert sound check by the Jazz Lab Big Band and the Gold Jazz Combo.
The Swing Into Spring concert and broadcast will feature Murray State’s jazz big bands and jazz combos on April 25 from Lovett Auditorium. Pictured is Murray State’s jazz orchestra.