Exciting Basie Beat Comes to the A&I Stage May 1 at SIUE

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The legendary big band jazz of the Count Basie Orchestra directed by Bill Hughes—the sound that helped the likes of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett swing to an exciting beat—takes center stage for the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Arts & Issues series at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 1, in SIUE’s Meridian Ballroom.

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It will be a great night for tapping your feet.

The legendary big band jazz of the Count Basie Orchestra directed by Bill Hughes—the sound that helped the likes of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett swing to an exciting beat—takes center stage for the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Arts & Issues series at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 1, in SIUE’s Meridian Ballroom.

The group has won every musical award imaginable, including 17 Grammies, and has been named to every respected jazz poll in the world at least once. The appearance will be part of the SIUE Jazz Festival, presented by the Department of Music as a non-competitive, educational event celebrating the music that is America’s art form—jazz.

Each year, the festival features a jazz innovator and this year chose the Count Basie Orchestra. High school and middle school bands will perform throughout the day and receive immediate feedback from festival clinicians. Other festival highlights and opportunities will include SIUE Jazz Camp scholarship opportunities and a performance by the SIUE Concert Jazz Band.

A native of New Jersey, William “Count” Basie knocked around various New York City bands in the late 1920s until he visited Tulsa, Okla., and was asked to join Walter Page’s Blue Devils. He then jumped to Benny Moton’s Kansas City Orchestra and began to make a name for himself throughout that KC swing scene. After forming his own band, it wasn’t long before he became widely regarded as one of the most important jazz bandleaders of his day.

“This is the real Basie sound,” says Arts & Issues Coordinator Grant Andree. “Many of these musicians joined since Basie died in 1984, but there also is a core of players in this group that was hand-picked by Basie himself,” he said. Hughes joined the Basie organization in 1953 and assumed leadership of the band in 2002.

As a tenor and bass trombonist, Hughes anchored what music critics called “one of the finest trombone sections in jazz” in the Count Basie Band. He has carried on the Count’s legacy well, Andree pointed out. With 19 performers, 17 sidemen, and a vocalist, the Count Basie Orchestra has lived on as America’s premier jazz band. The group continues the legacy of Basie’s trademark repertoire, with tunes such as One O’Clock Jump and April in Paris.

“It will be a great night for tapping your feet,” Andree said.

Tickets for the Count Basie Orchestra directed by Bill Hughes are $27; SIUE employees and retirees, as well as all senior citizens, $25; SIUE students, $13. Ticket information, subscription rates and ticket sales are available on the Web site: artsandissues.com, or by calling (618) 650-5774.

EDITORS: Most of the 2009-10 Arts & Issues photos suitable for print are available at http://www.siue.edu/artsandissues/PhotoIndex.shtml

The next Arts and Issues series appearance will be:

The Arts & Issues series and the SIUE Xfest present
The UMO Ensemble, 2 p.m. AND 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 15, Dunham Hall theater
As its mission, the UMO Ensemble is dedicated to “providing awe, challenge and inspiration” to theater audiences. The group will not disappoint as they take the Arts & Issues stage in Katherine Dunham Hall with their irreverent approach to Zen ... share the experience of the red nose monk clowns tackling ancient Buddhist, Zen and Sufi stories through mask, puppetry, live music and laughter, all performed by a dance troupe that offers physical theater, improvisation in movement, character and vocalizing.

That entire weekend (May 12-15) the SIUE Department of Theater and Dance, in conjunction with the Arts & Issues series, will expand its offerings into the summer and present SIUE Xfest: A Festival of Theatrical Experimentation. For four days and nights, several experimental theaters and theater artists from around the nation will join with the UMO Ensemble to conduct a series of workshops, master classes and performances as part of the festival.

Each year, under the guidance of the SIUE College of Arts and Sciences , the Arts & Issues series brings some of the best and brightest performers and speakers from around the world to Southwestern Illinois audiences for entertaining and thought-provoking presentations on the SIUE campus.

The SIUE College of Arts and Sciences combines foundational education with diverse and highly-specialized coursework. Faculty help students explore diversity of ideas, experiences and people while learning to think and live as fulfilled, productive members of a global society. The College offers degree programs in the arts, humanities and social and natural sciences.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is a nationally recognized public university offering a broad choice of degrees and programs ranging from career-oriented fields of study to the essential, more traditional, liberal arts. At SIUE we offer 44 baccalaureate degrees, 13 post-baccalaureate certificates, 47 master's degrees, 11 post- master's certificates, two first-professional degrees, and one post-first professional certificate. Known for an emphasis in health science education, SIUE offers a nursing school, pharmacy school and dental school. In addition, undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates are available in engineering, business, elementary education and secondary education.

SIUE offers the advantages of a small, liberal arts college with the low tuition rates of a state university. Our emphasis on undergraduate education, complemented by faculty research, creates practical applications for student learning. Located in the second most populated area of the state, this Illinois university draws students from all 102 Illinois counties, 42 states and 50 nations.

One of 12 Illinois colleges and universities, SIUE is located on 2,600 acres of rolling hills and woodlands in Edwardsville, just 25 miles from St. Louis, a major metropolitan area. Proximity to the St. Louis area enhances SIUE’s energy and vitality. The campus is easily accessed from several major interstates, while the city of Edwardsville offers ample opportunity for jobs, entertainment, shopping and fun.

Gregory J. Conroy
888-328-5168, ext. 3607

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