ABERDEEN, S.D. – A night of jazz music returns to the Alonzo Ward Hotel on
Friday, Nov. 22, with the Northern State University Jazz Swing Party.
Doors open at 6 p.m. and music starts at 7 p.m. in the historic grand ballroom of the hotel, 104 S. Main St.
The NSU music department will present a full five hours of live music, featuring three full big bands, a jazz-swing combo, a very swinging group called the “Sax Army” and the NSU Vocal Jazz Ensemble. All will perform celebrated and beloved swing-dance standards for dancing and listening. The music will be continuous the entire night.
For many, the event has become one of Aberdeen’s defining events, a gala affair of the late fall and early spring – a night of swirling dancers and exciting college musicians playing like it's 1948.
The bands this year will feature several vocalists, including NSU senior voice major Callie Marlette singing Ella Fitzgerald and Chick Webb’s version of “Tisket A Tasket.” Junior vocalist Paul Hoselton will sing some Sinatra standards, and sophomore Katie Wegleitner and senior Yvonne Freese will both sing standards with the big bands.
The event has its origins in the NSU Jazz Ensemble’s traditional November big band concert honoring Veterans Day. Prior to 2006, NSU Jazz Ensemble and vocal jazz students would perform authentic works of the big band era, dressed in period military uniforms, with ballroom dancers on the Johnson Fine Arts Center stage. The growth of the fine arts department at NSU the past several years has allowed for two, and now three, full big bands; a large Vocal Jazz Ensemble, directed by Dr. Wendy van Gent; and the NSU Jazz Combo and “Sax Army,” both directed by Mr. Frederic Hemke. Dr. Terry Beckler directs both the second and third big bands at NSU.
“This group has a lot of young talent in it due to a great recruiting year last year, and it has been exciting to watch the freshmen and sophomores step into leadership roles in the groups, and undergo the musical growth this brings,” said Dr. Grant Manhart, NSU professor of high brass and jazz studies.
“These kids have a lot on their plate in the fall, including playing professional scores in the pit for the fall musical; performing in the NSU Symphonic Band; performing at the basketball games in the Wolfpack pep band; performing in the Aberdeen University/Civic Symphony; and some are also in the choirs, plus all their university and music studies.”
Manhart urges all who are young or young at heart to venture into the crisp November air on Friday evening to dance or listen to the great swing music of our American heritage.
Tickets are $10 and are available at the customer service counter of Ken’s SuperFair Foods, 2105 Sixth Ave. S.E., or at the door. Children 8 and under get in free; ages 9-12 get in for half price.