Murray State University jazz ensembles return on stage for concert for first time in 18 months

Murray State University jazz ensembles return on stage for concert for first time in 18 months

By Shawn Touney | Oct 26, 2021

MSU's Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Workshop and Blue Jazz Combo will perform Tuesday November 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Murray State University's nationally-recognized Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Workshop and Blue Jazz Combo will return to stage with an on-campus concert, Tuesday, November 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Curris Center Ballroom.

MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University's nationally-recognized Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Workshop and Blue Jazz Combo will return to stage with an on-campus concert, Tuesday, November 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Curris Center Ballroom. All three groups are under the direction of Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies, Dr. Todd E. Hill. The concert is free and open to the public, with those in attendance asked to follow the Racer Safe and Healthy Guidelines, which includes the wearing of face masks while indoors. 

The 70-minute program will open with the Blue Jazz Combo performing three small group jazz classics: Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay", Antonio Carlos Jobim's "One Note Samba", and Wayne Shorter's "Yes or No". The Blue Jazz Combo is comprised of five horns and five rhythm players.

The Jazz Workshop is a unique ensemble comprised of five saxophones, violin and a full rhythm section. They will be performing five selections to include George Gershwin's "Strike Up the Band", Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing", Perez Prado's "Mambo No.5", Irving Berlin's "Puttin' on the Ritz", and Louis Prima's "Jump, Jive and Wail". 

 The Jazz Orchestra is a full-sized traditional big band including five saxophones, five trumpets, five trombones and five rhythm players. The Jazz Orchestra will open with a tribute to Murray State's first campus dance band from close to a hundred years ago, "The Kentucky Stompers" with one of their numbers "I Found a New Baby". Other selections include Sammy Nestico's masterpiece written for and recorded by Count Basie, "The Queen Bee", a vocal feature for Audri Hughes of Paducah, Kentucky,"How Long Has This Been Going On?" by George and Ira Gershwin, Duke Ellington's "Sepia Panorama", Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia",  Benny Golson's "Whisper Not", and a Jeff Jarvis old-school funk composition, "Critical Mass".

Members of the Murray State Jazz Orchestra include saxophonists Liam Newman (Wildwood, Missouri), Caleb Dries (Louisville, Kentucky), Corey White (Hamilton, New Jersey), Kendra Chaney (Bumpus Mills, Tennessee) and Stephen Mullins (Owensboro, Kentucky). Trumpeters are Nick McKenzie (Memphis, Tennessee), Ryan Haygood (Alvin, Texas), Adam Blake (Herrin, Illinois), Max Welch (Evansville, Indiana) and Max Bruegemann (Belleville, Illinois). Trombonists are Joey Noble (Maryland Heights, Missouri), Shelby Starks (Benton, Kentucky), Noah Wright (Jasper, Indiana), Dillon Smith (Murray, Kentucky), and bass trombonist Aaron Beach (Paducah, Kentucky). The rhythm section consists of pianist Emma Nelson (Brookport, Illinois), guitarist Tyler Fitzgerald (Cape Girardeau, Missouri), a unique sibling acoustic bass duo – Gavin and Camryn Hayes (Metropolis, Illinois), vibraphonist and latin percussionist Sarah Hasekamp (Maryland Heights, Missouri) and drummer Nelson Youngblood IV (Union City, Tennessee). Vocalist is Audri Hughes (Paducah, Kentucky).

The Murray State Jazz Workshop consists of saxophonists Tia Crouse (Murray, Kentucky), Liberty Guyette (Paducah, Kentucky), Logan Bogard (Murray, Kentucky), Eva Edwards (Norris City, Illinois) and Devin Richards (Benton, Kentucky). Tim Lewis (Paducah, Kentucky) plays violin in selected numbers. The rhythm section is pianist Elliot Riney (Paducah, Kentucky), guitarist John Sowers (Lancaster, Kentucky), bassist Sean Shelton (Murray, Kentucky), Spencer Osborne on vibraphone and congas (Owensboro, Kentucky), and drummer Evan Carlton (Madisonville, Kentucky). 

The Murray State Blue Jazz Combo includes trumpeter McKenzie, trombonist Korie Brewer (Cape Girardeau, Missouri), saxophonists Dries, Newman and Richards. The rhythm section includes two pianists – Nelson and Clay Barnard (Nixa, Missouri), vibraphonist Liam Coursey (Madisonville, Kentucky), bassist Gavin Hayes, and drummer Youngblood. 

Under the direction of Dr. Todd E. Hill since 2006, the Murray State Jazz Orchestra has presented four invited concerts for the Kentucky Music Educators Conference (and a fifth will be made in February 2022). The group has made four invited appearances at the famed Elmhurst College Jazz Festival, including "Outstanding Band" awards, and more than twenty-five outstanding soloist presentations. They presented a 2014 feature concert at the prestigious MidWest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, Illinois to great acclaim. The group sponsors the annual Jamey Aebersold Jazz Festival at Murray State, attracting between 250 and 400 students to the campus annually. The Murray State Jazz Orchestra has five albums presently available on Apple Music and iTunes for download and streaming. 

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