Utah State’s music department comes out swinging with Big Bands concert

The Caine College of the Arts presents the Big Bands concert Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Utah State University’s Performance Hall.

The Jazz Ensemble and the Jazz Orchestra will be performing standards like “Some Skunk Funk” by the Brecker Brothers, “Thunderbird” by Ray Anthony and “Central Park North” by Thad Jones. The bands include students and faculty members lead by Jon Gudmundson and Greg Wheeler.

“Max Matzen, our newest faculty member, will be doing a flugelhorn solo on Central Park North,” Gudmundson said. “The song becomes this really slow ballad then Max turns it into a raunchy, backbeat-funky thing.”

The groups include five saxophones, four trombones, five trumpets, piano, guitar, bass and drums. Students are seated by how well they played in auditions at the beginning of the school year.

“This concert facilitates music for people who aren’t necessarily into jazz,” said Parker Robinson, a baritone saxophonist. “It’s really our take on this kind of music — we’re making conscious decisions about how we’re playing.”

This is the second of four concerts the bands will perform this year.

“It’s one of the few chances to hear a big band play,” said Mike Benson, a tenor saxophonist. “Outside of universities and probably New York, big bands really aren’t a thing anymore.”

The cost is free for USU students, $5 for USU faculty and staff, $8 for senior citizens and children and $10 for general admission.

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