Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA's Swingin' Axes, Aces to perform holiday album works, jazz favorites

November 15, 2017 - Robbie Goodrich
SFA's Swingin' Axes and Swingin' Aces jazz bands will present "A Jazzy Christmas" a 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Swingin' Axes and Swingin' Aces at Stephen F. Austin State University will present the program "A Jazzy Christmas" that will feature a mixture of holiday songs and jazz favorites at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.

The Swingin' Axes, directed by Dr. Deb Scott, will perform arrangements from two major jazz Christmas albums. Stan Kenton released his landmark album, "Kenton's Christmas," in 1970. "We Three Kings," "Adeste Fideles (O, Come All Ye Faithful)" and "The Twelve Days of Christmas" are all popular arrangements by Kenton and Ralph Carmichael, according to Scott.

These famous recordings originally included adding four mellophone players to the traditional jazz ensemble. These parts will be performed by horn majors from the SFA School of Music, including Corrie Bird of Mineral Wells, Abbigail Ramsey of McKinney, Taylor Young of Hallsville and Cody Wyatt of Pearland.

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band released a Christmas album in 2006 called "Bah Humduck!, A Looney Tunes Christmas." The Axes will perform several "wildly untraditional" Christmas arrangements from this album, Scott said. Those include "Yo Tannenbaum!," "God Rest Ye Mary, Gentlemen" and "The Little Drummer Boy."

The concert will also feature Barry Martin, senior percussion major, singing "The Christmas Song" by Mel Tormé and Robert Wells, arranged by Jerry Nowak.

The Swingin' Aces, directed by Dr. J.D. Salas, will perform two pieces by East Texas arranger and composer Mike McGowan, who instructs music theory at Panola College in Carthage and performs saxophone and keyboard in several East Texas jazz groups. Those works include "My Shining Hour" by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, arranged by McGowan, and the world premiere of McGowan's "Mrs. Luckey's Blue Plate Special."

The Aces will also perform "In A Mellow Tone" by Duke Ellington, arranged by Dave Wolpe; "But Beautiful" by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen, arranged by Lennie Niehaus; "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by Vince Guaraldi, arranged by Paul Murtha; and "Take the 'A' Train" by Billy Strayhorn, arranged by Gordon Goodwin.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit http://www.finearts.sfasu.edu/. Cole Concert Hall is located in the Tom and Peggy Wright Music Building.