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Utah State jazz bands prepare for second concert of the semester

By Jackson Wilde

When Jon Gudmundson thinks back to his days as a student musician, he remembers an underwhelming experience playing dated arrangements in his high school’s big band.

So while he acknowledged the importance of learning classic big band music, the Utah State University jazz orchestra leader said he also wants his students to perform “arrangements that aren’t lame.” And that, he said, is what’s on the performance schedule tonight at 7:30, as the university’s jazz orchestra and jazz ensemble take the stage at the Morgan Theatre for an evening of big band stylings.

Between the two bands, a total of 11 pieces of music will be played. Gudmundson said his students will be playing “big, swinging big band charts” along with an arrangement of the title track off Radiohead’s album “Kid A.”

Gudmundson said he chose engaging arrangements to further the development of his students while maintaining their joy of playing music.

Utah State’s jazz ensemble will be playing five pieces including “Bumps” and “Peel Me a Grape” according to Greg Wheeler, the leader of the ensemble. Wheeler said his students will be joined by a dynamic guest vocalist, Chris Wilson, during one of the pieces.

According to Wheeler, these performances help foster efficiency in student musicians who seek a career playing music. He said playing live is the true application of what jazz musicians prepare for.

“We want to play our horns for life,” Wheeler said. “This is what we do.”

“In the real world you need to play all kinds of different styles,” Gudmundson said. “Your knowledge gets deeper when you play in these different styles.”

Wheeler said the night is about entertainment and putting on a good show for all attendees. He said the coming performances from his students should inspire a love for music in musicians and non-musicians alike.

“I’m very pleased with what the kids have done this semester,” Wheeler said. “Tomorrow night should be a blast.”