Big Band Bash showcases talent

The Department of Music attracted quite the audience to Norton Auditorium for its Feb. 12 presentation of the Valentine’s Big Band Bash.

Four bands took the stage and received great responses from the audience after each piece.

The first, the Shoals Big Band, led by Director of Bands Lloyd Jones, had a great, classic sound to kick off the series of performances.

Their first song was “Cabaret,” which immediately made me want to jump from my seat, grab a partner and start swing dancing. 

A World War II Medley, featuring soloist Holli Jacobs, included the songs, “I’ve Heard That Song Before,” “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “I’m Beginning to See the Light.” Jacobs belted the beautiful, soulful tunes, and was definitely a crowd-pleaser.

Following the Shoals Big Band was the Swingin’ River Big Band, led by James Ed Champion.

The Swingin’ River Big Band featured its saxophone and trombone sections in its set. This band held a lot of gospel influence with its beautiful renditions of “This Little Light of Mine” and “I’ll Fly Away.” It even encouraged the crowd to clap along and received an enthusiastic response. Solo vocalist Donna Berryhill also added a smooth style to the song “Sweet Georgia Brown.”

Up next, the Muscle Shoals High School Jazz Band, led by director David Waters, kicked its set off with a more modern tempo. 

The band’s set featured three feel-good songs: “Brass Machine,” “Night and Day” and “Feel So Good.” I really enjoyed this set because it offered something a little different from the previous two bands. It seemed to be more upbeat, and it offered a sense of youth and lightheartedness.

It was also refreshing to see young musicians showcase their talent alongside older, more experienced musicians. The high school students held their own and delivered a great performance.

Last but not least, the UNA Studio Jazz Band performed. Jones took the stage again to lead the band.

This band featured the flute section in its Italian number, “Tico Tico.” This is not common in jazz music, Jones said before the performance.

The band also showcased its vocal talent with soloist Hannah Jacobs.

The UNA Studio Jazz Band did something unlike any of the other bands. It played a medley entitled “Monuments of Jazz,” which compiled twenty-nine jazz pieces into one. This piece impressed me, as it was obviously difficult.

Overall, the Valentine’s Big Band Bash was beautifully put together, and it exemplified the true talent here in the Shoals community. 

I enjoyed hearing the beautiful jazz music, and I would recommend any student looking for an affordable, fun and entertaining Valentine’s outing with a loved one or friends to consider attending if this happens again next year.