Stephen F. Austin State University


SFA jazz bands' performances to feature works of music greats Basie, Sturm

September 26, 2014
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin State University College of Fine Arts and School of Music will present the university's jazz bands, the Swingin' Axes and Swingin' Aces, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.

In the first concert of the year, the Swingin's Axes will "take on an exciting project - a live production of Count Basie's 1968 hit album, 'Basie - Straight Ahead,'" according to Gary Wurtz, professor of trumpet and jazz studies at SFA and director of the Swingin' Axes.

"This album contains nine original compositions by famed arranger and composer Sammy Nestico, who was to new to Basie's band at that time," explains Wurtz. "The idea behind the recording was to place on display 'the essence of the Basie style,' and by the time the session was over, everyone involved, from the band members to the producers, to Basie himself, felt they had accomplished their goal."

To this day, most teachers of young jazz musicians put these arrangements in front of their students to help teach an iconic style, Wurtz said.

"In this performance, the Axes will perform all nine pieces, in order, replicating, as best they can, the legendary recording," he said. "'Straight Ahead' swing will be the order of the evening."

The Swingin' Aces, directed by Deb Scott, professor of trombone at SFA, will perform works by the late jazz composer/arranger Fred Sturm, who studied music at the University of North Texas, as did Scott and Wurtz. Sturm was later the conductor of the Eastman School of Music Jazz Ensemble and then the director of the jazz department at Lawrence University.

"The Swingin' Aces will perform two of his pieces as a tribute to Sturm," Scott said. "'Catalpa Complex,' composed by John Harmon and arranged by Sturm, was recorded by the funky jazz group Matrix in the 1970s. The Aces will also perform 'Chronometry' by Sturm, a beautifully written contemporary samba."

Also on the Aces' program is "Let's Fall in Love" by H. Arlen and T. Koehler, arranged by Dave Wolpe, and a famous saxophone feature, "Four Brothers" by Jimmy Giuffre, arranged by Peter Blair.

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

By Robbie Goodrich
University Marketing Communications
(936) 468-2605