Community Concert Association of Union City/Obion County hosting Community Concert Series

UTM jazz band(1)

Community Concert Association of Union City/Obion County will host Union City High School Jazz Band and University of Tennessee at Martin Jazz Band Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Union City Civic Auditorium. Individual tickets will be made available to non-members for $10 at Lanzer Printing and Office Supply in downtown Union City and at the door. For more information about Community Concert Association, visit online at www.communityconcertuc.org or on Facebook at Community Concert of Union City/Obion County.

Members and patrons of Community Concert Association of Union City/Obion County will be able to enjoy some local jazz bands soon.

Union City High School Jazz Band and University of Tennessee at Martin Jazz Band will perform Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Union City Civic Auditorium.

Individual tickets will be made available to non-members for $10 for this concert.

The Union City High School Jazz Band was started in the early- to mid-1960s by longtime band director Marion Reithel.

Reithel began the program as an extra curricular program that met a few times a week before school. The band immediately became a success and began to perform concerts as well as play for various community events.

In the late 1990s current Director of Bands John Easley was able to establish a jazz band class at UCHS for the first time and the band began to flourish once again. In the early ’90s Easley and Reithel were doing the jazz band together and had to end it due to the demands on the students with other before-school activities. The jazz band class made it possible for the group to rehearse on a daily basis, and they once again started to do concerts and community performances. Also, in 2001 the program had its first members be selected to the All-West Tennessee Honor Jazz Band, followed by a run of three years with members selected to the Tennessee All-State Jazz Band.

When more independent classes were added to the UCHS curriculum in the mid-2000s, the jazz band class was removed from the schedule and the band once again was dissolved. With no intentions of starting the program before or after school again, Easley felt as though the program was probably done during his duration as director.

But then he was approached by a group of students who said they would really like to do jazz band and wondered if there had ever been one at UCHS. After learning about the program’s past, this diligent group of students said they would be willing to give it a shot at rehearsing in the mornings, and the UCHS Jazz Band was up and going again.

This is the third year for the new program and it has flourished once more. According to Easley, it really means more to him than ever before, because he is aware of the time constraints on the students involved. He says they really make a commitment to come out at 7 a.m. to rehearse.

The current band consists of ninth through 12th graders who are members of the UCHS band program. Auditions are now held for the group, due to the show of interest in the jazz band  that has developed over the past few years. The hope is that the group will continue to be a strong part of the UCHS band program for years to come, as jazz is a needed genre of music for everyone, Easley says.

The UTM Big Band, directed by Dr. Kurt Gorman, displays the diversity, vibrancy and artistry of jazz, America’s greatest art form, through the medium of the traditional big band. A UTM Big Band performance features Swing Era charts by Duke Ellington and Count Basie, as well as a wide array contemporary compositions, Latin jazz and funk charts.

The group presents the repertoire of jazz standards, from songs by Gershwin or Rodgers and Hart, to the compositions of Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis

The UTM Small Jazz Group is comprised of select players from the UTM Big Band who practice and cultivate the fine art of jazz improvisation. The ensemble holds jam sessions open to the community of UTM students and to the general public.

After the jazz bands’ performance, the remaining local concert will be Chicago tribute band Transit Authority on April 26. The remaining reciprocal performance for Dyersburg Live on Stage is the Memphis Men’s Chorale and Memphis Women’s Chorale on April 5.

For more information about Community Concert Association, visit online at www.communityconcertuc.org or on Facebook at Community Concert of Union City/Obion County.

Individual tickets for local shows will be available at Lanzer Printing and Office Supply in downtown Union City.

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