Concert open to the public at Lovett Auditorium and broadcast live on 91.3 WKMS
MURRAY, Ky. — At 7:30 p.m. on April 23, historic Lovett Auditorium will be swinging with the sounds of the Murray State University Jazz Band and Jazz Orchestra’s Swing into Spring concert, accompanied by a live radio broadcast on 91.3 WKMS in the style of a show from a remote location in the 1930s or 1940s. The concert is free and open to the public.
Dr. Todd E. Hill, professor of music and director of jazz studies at Murray State University, has invited the vocal talents of radio announcer Mark Welch plus the duo of Robert Valentine and Dr. Robert McGaughey to add comedic bits and announcements, helping 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, featuring standards by student vocalists Kayla Marie Little of Murray, Kentucky, and Rebecca Robards of Henderson, Kentucky.
As Hill is on sabbatical, the Jazz Orchestra is under the direction of Dr. Todd M. French, assistant professor of music, and the Jazz Band is under the direction of Dr. J. Derek Jones, adjunct professor of music and director of bands at Calloway County High School.
Featured selections by the Jazz Band will include Count Basie’s “Jumpin’ at the Woodside,” “The Tiger of San Pedro” featured by Bill Watrous, “Over the Rainbow” with a vocal by Rebecca Robards, Ray Anthony’s “Mr. Anthony’s Boogie,” and “Big Noise from Winnetka,” a feature composed by the rhythm section of the Bob Crosby Orchestra in the late 1930s. The Jazz Orchestra’s selections will include Count Basie’s famous version of “April in Paris,” Buddy Rich’s “Groovin’ Hard,” Thad Jones’ “Big Dipper,” Henry Mancini’s “Charade,” and “Blue Skies” with a vocal by Kayla Marie Little.
“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 the seventh year for the Swing into Spring broadcast, the concert featuring Murray State jazz ensembles began during Dr. Hill’s first year on faculty 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, handles the difficult job of mixing sound on the fly. 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 leadership, 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.
Top photo: At 7:30 p.m. on April 23, historic Lovett Auditorium will be swinging with the sounds of the Murray State University Jazz Band and Jazz Orchestra’s Swing into Spring concert, accompanied by a live radio broadcast on 91.3 WKMS in the style of a show from a remote location in the 1930s or 1940s. Pictured is the Murray State University Jazz Orchestra.