Texas State will get a blast from the past when students perform the big band music of the 1920s Monday.
The School of Music’s Ensemble Series will present the Jazz Lab Band on Oct. 22 in Evans Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.
The Jazz Lab Band is one of three jazz ensemble classes in the School of Music. Students will be performing in the first of two concerts for the class. Professor Martin McCain, who has instructed the course for three years, will direct it.
“We’ve been rehearsing for this concert since the beginning of class. The students have been working hard and having a lot of fun learning about big bands in jazz,” McCain said. “It’s more fun than anything, but it’s still part of the grade.”
The concert will open up with a section of students called the Jazzbones, which excludes the saxophones and trumpets. McCain said it was a tradition that developed throughout the Big Band Era.
The whole ensemble will then come into play, touching on a variety of styles such as classical, Latin and funk.
“We’ll use seven tunes to take the audience on an emotional roller coaster,” McCain said. “I like to take people on a ride and leave them thinking.”
Participant Sarah McGriff, sound recording technology freshman, said most of the pieces are energetic and fun, no matter what the style.
Some of the music titles match their feel, such as “Wiggle Walk,” “Spin Cycle” and “Spring.” Most pieces are widely known, but McCain also uses student and local composers’ work.
McGriff said she was surprised to see a piece from a composer in Austin, and that it helps connect the audience with the musicians.
“I’ve played in and always loved big bands, but this one is on a whole new level,” McGriff said. “A lot of the time, I don’t consider it a class. I’m just in it for the fun of the band. The pieces are difficult but exciting and totally worth it.”
The class is geared toward freshmen and sophomores. McCain said it focuses on sight-reading, ensembles and jazz combos.
“We work on ensemble pieces more, but this class its like the big bands of the 1920s because there are 15-plus musicians,” McCain said. “This class is a great opportunity for music education majors as well, since we cover a lot of different material.”
Otoniel Lara, music studies senior, said the class has helped in terms of providing the experience and tools needed to teach in high school bands.
“Watching the freshmen has helped too. They definitely have gotten better at being comfortable and in sync,” Lara said. “You can’t really hide in an ensemble. Just showing up for class doesn’t work. You have to constantly show up and self-assess your progress.”
The class meets twice a week, sometimes rehearsing for two hours. McGriff said the band has been improving every day.
“The audience shouldn’t underestimate us,” McGriff said. We’ve been working really hard to make this a great experience with some great music. They’re in for a treat.”
Tickets can be purchased at the door 30 minutes before the concert begins. General admission tickets are $10 and student tickets are $5 with a valid ID.