MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University is hosting the free Swing into Spring Concert on Tuesday, April 24, at 7:30 p.m. in historic Lovett Auditorium. The performance featuring two big bands and two small groups will also be broadcast on Murray State’s NPR station WKMS (91.3 FM).
The concert aims to recreate the feeling of jazz in remote locations in the 1930s or 1940s. Radio announcer Mark Welch as well as the duo of Dr. Trey and Dr. Vee — the latter characters played, respectively, by Dr. Robert Valentine and Dr. Robert McGaughey — will offer comedic announcements and sketches to set the mood of a live broadcast from the big-band era. Although not limiting their repertoire solely to the music of the period, the bands will concentrate on compositions in the swing style that feature performances by student vocalists Melanie Davis (Mount Vernon, Indiana) and Kayla Marie Little (Murray).
Featured selections during the evening by the Jazz Orchestra will include “Cruisin’ for a Bluesin’,” “Walkin’ Shoes,” “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “I Caught a Touch of Your Love,” “Alright, Okay, You Win,” “The Man I Love” and “I Wish.” The Jazz Band will then present “Wind Machine,” “Stolen Moments,” “I Like the Sunrise,” “The Best Things in Life Are Free” and “Retro Funk.” The Blue and Gold Jazz Combos will perform such classics as “Tangerine,” “Sister Sadie,” “Comin’ Home Baby” and “Just Squeeze Me.”
“Preparing to do this has been a challenge for the students as timing becomes everything,” said Dr. Todd Hill, professor of music and director of jazz studies. “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 the sixth year for the broadcast version of the Swing into Spring Concert, the concert featuring all Murray State Jazz Ensembles started during Hill’s first year at the University.
“The folks at WKMS really do an outstanding job with production,” Hill said. “Justin Patton, recording engineer for the department of music, also handles the difficult job of mixing sound on the fly as it is happening. With everyone’s help, we have managed to stay between 30 and 90 seconds for accuracy on a 99-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 (four times), the prestigious Elmhurst College Jazz Festival (three times) and the famed Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic. The group has recorded and released three albums since 2014.
During the Swing into Spring Concert, Hill will direct the Murray State Jazz Orchestra and small combos, while graduate assistant director Jon Nash will direct the Murray State Jazz Band.
The public is invited to attend the concert April 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Lovett Auditorium. There is no admission fee.