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Originally published Monday, March 4, 2019 at 01:02p.m.

The Yavapai College Jazz Bands will fill the theater with sounds from the big band era, for one night only, Friday, March 8th at 7 p.m., in a special live concert at Old Town Center for the Arts.

The Yavapai College Jazz Big Bands, which include the ‘Roughriders’ and the ‘Trailblazers,’ will present a night of big band sounds that will send you back in time. Swing rhythms, soulful saxophones, and punchy brasses combine to make this an evening of classics that define the genre. Greats from across the ages will be performed.

The Roughriders are a music student-oriented big band, with a few of the most talented community members Prescott has to offer anchoring the lineup.

With multiple music degree seeking students on the roster, the group is focused on the fundamentals of jazz as well as its historical background.

For this upcoming concert, the band is specifically concentrating on the heart of the jazz tradition, the 12-bar blues progression, and its varied use in the jazz language. Selections include some of the most recognizable names in the jazz tradition, as well as some lesser known gems.

The Trailblazers big band is an elite group of community musicians from all over the region, representing the best jazz for miles around. Among their backgrounds are several military musicians, school band directors, and other musical professionals of the highest caliber. The band was honored several years ago with a 1st place finish at the Reno Jazz Festival in Reno, Nevada. Their performance includes music from across the jazz spectrum, with much of their literature coming from the professional catalogue.

Big bands originated during the early 1910’s and dominated jazz in the early 1940’s when Swing style music was most popular. Before 1914 social dance in America was dominated by steps such as the waltz and polka.

As jazz migrated from its New Orleans origin to Chicago and New York City, energetic, suggestive dances traveled with it. During the next decades, ballrooms filled with people doing the jitterbug and Lindy Hop. 

One of the first bands to accompany the new rhythms was led by drummer Art Hickman, in San Francisco in 1916. Hickman’s arranger, Ferde Grofe, wrote arrangements in which he divided the jazz orchestra into sections that combined in various ways. This intermingling of sections became a defining characteristic of big bands.

Some of the names and places of Jazz are remembered to this day, and Yavapai College Jazz Bands will bring some of these memories to mind. You may recall, Duke Ellington and the Cotton Club, Roseland Ballroom, Louis Armstrong, the Apollo Theater, Billy Strahorn, and Thelonius Monk. The Yavapai College Jazz Band will play the music of many of these Jazz greats played in these memorable halls.

“We’re really excited to collaborate with Yavapai College for this concert,” Co-Director William Eaton remarked, “We don’t often have the opportunity to program a large ensemble. Think the audience will thoroughly enjoy the music, compositions, and the sonic tour de force that the bands will bring.”

Old Town Center for the Arts Is located at 5th Street & Main in Old Town Cottonwood.

Tickets for The Yavapai College Jazz Band are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and $20 for priority seating in the first three rows. Tickets are available online at showtix4u.com.

Tickets are also available in Cottonwood at: Desert Dancer, and Mount Hope Foods and in Sedona at The Literate Lizard Bookstore. 

For upcoming events, visit oldtowncenter.org.

For further information, contact Elena Bullard at 928-634-0940.

If You Go ...

• What: Yavapai College Jazz Bands

• When: Friday, March 8th, 7 p.m.

• Where: Old Town Center for the Arts, 5th Street & Main, Cottonwood

• How Much: $15 advance $18 door, $20 priority

• More Info: (928) 634-0940 oldtowncenter.org

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