Studio jazz band prepares to woo with ‘Songs for Swinging Lovers’

Shoals area musicians will gather on Feb. 12 at 2 p.m. at Norton Auditorium to musically spread the love just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The annual Big Band Blowout showcases the UNA Studio Jazz Band and special guests Shoals Area Big Band performing swing and jazz hits, both classic and contemporary.

“Last year, they moved the Big Band Blowout to February; it was originally around Veteran’s Day,” said Callie Henderson, clarinetist in the UNA Studio Jazz Band. “I think the idea of moving it had something to do with a ‘near Valentine’s Day’ concert.”

This year’s program is entitled “Songs for Swinging Lovers,” featuring hit love songs from big band swing legends like Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and more.

“The Studio Jazz Band is playing songs with titles such as ‘Cute,’ ‘Lover’ and a wonderful arrangement of the ‘Porgy and Bess’ collection,” Henderson said. “I’m pretty sure the ‘Summertime’ section of ‘Porgy and Bess’ is my absolute favorite. It has a wonderful big band sound for the theme, and it’ll rock your world.”

New to the program this year is the addition of the UNA Jazz Band. Though the Studio Jazz band has a wider variety of instruments, the Jazz Band is a more traditionally arranged group with saxophones, brass, bass, piano and percussion.

The Jazz Band includes vocalist Holli Jacobs, who will be performing songs such as “Alright, Okay, You Win” by Ray Charles and “Love Will Keep Us Together” by the Captain & Tennille.

“Holli is a great vocalist and a great musician,” said UNA Band Director Dr. Lloyd Jones. “She started out in the Studio Jazz Band as a saxophonist and then auditioned for the vocalist position. She has done a wonderful job, and I know the audience will enjoy her interpretation of these great songs.”

Proceeds for the event go to the UNA band scholarship fund, a way for the public to help the program keep delivering quality entertainment in the future.

“I’m a huge fan of the songs we’re playing,” said Michael Carter, baritone saxophonist in the UNA Jazz Band and Studio Jazz Band. “I’d be hard-pressed to even cite one in particular as my favorite. All the tunes are pretty high quality.”