MURRAY, Ky. — On Friday, Oct. 26, the walls of Lovett Auditorium will resonate with sounds of the big band era during the fourth annual Swingin’ Memories Homecoming Dance, which features the University’s Jazz Band and award-winning Jazz Orchestra.
The event will take place Oct. 26 on the stage of historic Lovett Auditorium beginning at 8 p.m. The stage will be set up for dancing as it would have been during the days of the swing bands: the band at one end, an open dance floor and a ring of tables and chairs around the perimeter. Both the Murray State Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Band are directed by Dr. Todd E. Hill, professor of music and director of jazz studies at Murray State.
The Jazz Band will begin the night by performing the opening set, providing continuous music from 8 to 10 p.m. The Jazz Orchestra will also perform several swing tunes from the 1930s and 40s as well as some later hits up through the 1960s. Featured music will include hits made famous by Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey, Les Brown, Count Basie and many others.
“This is such a terrific opportunity for these student musicians,” said Hill, a long-time professional bandleader who has been playing at dances for more than 35 years. “They get to experience playing for dancers. And, after all, the basis of jazz is that it should have a danceable beat, so what better way to feel the give and take that motion brings to the music? Those who don’t care to dance are more than welcome to just come, listen and enjoy the music.”
Additional tunes that will be featured include those previously performed by many of the Murray State dance bands from the Swing period, including those led by Billy Shelton, Len Foster, Jim Fern, Leroy Offerman, Billy Crosswy and the Phi Mu Alpha “Men of Note” band. Other songs from the evening were originally performed by the territorial dance bands that featured many Murray State music students and were headed by Jack Staulcup, Chuck Simons and Tom Lonardo.
In Hill’s tenure at Murray State, the Jazz Orchestra has appeared by invitation at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic as well as made three appearances at the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival and four appearances at the Kentucky Music Educators Conference. They presently have four albums in release — one of which qualified for Grammy nomination.
The fourth annual Swingin’ Memories Homecoming Dance begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, in Lovett Auditorium as part of Homecoming 2018 festivities. There is no admission fee but a suggested $10 donation will be accepted. All funds support the jazz program at Murray State.
A detailed schedule of events for Homecoming 2018 can be found at murraystate.edu/homecoming.