Jazz Ensembles Set to Swing at Spring Concert

Monday, April 28th, 2014

West Virginia Wesleyan College’s jazz ensemble will present their annual spring concert this Friday, May 2 at 8:00 p.m. in the Culpepper Auditorium in the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts.  The concert will feature Wesleyan’s Big Band as well as University High School (UHS) jazz ensemble from Morgantown.

The Big Band, Wesleyan’s premiere jazz ensemble, will perform movements from Benny Carter’s Kansas City Suite, which was recorded by the Count Basie Orchestra.

“The ‘Suite’ is a really great work that is not performed very much,” says Dr. James Moore, director of jazz ensembles.  “It is a multi-movement piece that the Basie band recorded in 1960 on the Vogue label. Benny Carter’s writing is really unique as it straddles the swing era of the 1940s and also embraces many of the more Bebop-oriented melodic ideas of the 1950s. We are really excited to perform this work.”

Moore adds that “it has been a little while since the Big Band delved into the writing style of a single historically significant arranger,” and it was a good time to do it.

“We have a crew of really talented students in the group right now, and they are really into the music,” stated Moore.  “They are hungry to learn about jazz, its history, and its sonic qualities.”

Opening for the Big Band will be the UHS jazz ensemble.  UHS is this year’s recipient of the West Virginia Bandmasters’ Association Honor Jazz Award.  Dr. Moore, a 1998 graduate of UHS, has high praise for the ensemble and its director, Neil King.

“These kids are playing jazz on a really high level,” commented Moore. “They can swing, they can improvise, they have heart, and they are hungry. We are honored to have the group sharing our stage!”

King, director of the UHS Jazz Ensemble, also had praise for Wesleyan’s Big Band and director Moore.

“What’s happening at Wesleyan right now is very special,” said King. “The program is growing there, and James is doing great work by exposing his students to swinging music.”

King says that the relationship between Wesleyan and UHS’s jazz programs is a logical one.

“They care about swinging, and so do we,” King said. “James and I are great friends, and we want our students to interact and learn from each other, as we always have.”

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information on Wesleyan’s music department, contact Dr. James Moore at moore_j@wvwc.edu.