ASU bands blast off with opening jazz concert

Two big bands at ASU will kick off their performance season Tuesday with a jazz concert that features historical and contemporary pieces

ASU’s Concert Jazz Band and Jazz Repertory Band will come together for a night of classical and contemporary musical exploration this week. 

Tuesday night marks the annual Big Band Blastoff, a concert put on by two ASU jazz bands. At the beginning of the semester, students auditioned for the bands, and since then, the bands have been rehearsing twice a week for the event.

Michael Kocour, the director of jazz studies and director of the Concert Jazz Band, said the audience should expect to hear a variety of work.

“They can expect to hear a variety from both the history of groups like this — for instance, the concert jazz band will be playing a selection that was recorded by the Count Basie Orchestra,” he said. “Both bands will dig back into the history, revisit some of the historically significant pieces that have been recorded by groups like this in the past and we’ll also be exploring some contemporary pieces — things written more recently for ensembles like this.”

Jeffrey Libman, an instructor in ASU’s School of Music and the director of the Jazz Repertory Band, said he thinks the Big Band Blastoff will be a great concert because of the rhythmic quality of jazz music.

“Big band music or large jazz ensemble music is very exciting,” he said. “It’s rhythmic. It’s melodic. (It has) great solos. Our students are really talented. They work really hard. So I think it will be an exciting concert.”

He also said that jazz should be appreciated because it is a truly American concept that people often brush aside.

“Jazz music is perhaps our country’s greatest artistic creation, and a lot of people don’t think about that,” he said. “There are a lot of things we think of as being American, and they’re kind of American. Jazz was created in America — it’s exciting music.”

While many millennials choose to listen to more current styles of music, exploring the older genres can be beneficial. Melanie Ortiz, a freshman kinesiology major and frequent listener of jazz music, said other students should listen to jazz as well because it's relaxing and helps students relate to the music of previous eras.

“Jazz music is calming, and it kind of connects people to the times that were just back then,” she said. “It’s really soothing music.”

The Big Band Blastoff is an event that can assist those looking for a chance to explore the music of the jazz era, as well as contemporary jazz works.

The free concert takes place at the Evelyn Smith Music Theatre, which is located on ASU’s Tempe campus, on Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact the Tune Event Hotline.

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