When listening to a 70-year-old recording of Count Basie’s
big band music, one can’t help but notice how good it sounds.
Like it or not, jazz stands the test of time, maintaining
recognition even in the face of mainstream rock and pop.
Of course, there are some who disagree, thinking that jazz is a
style of the past, reserved only for those who can remember its
popularity. These unenlightened individuals need only to check out
tomorrow’s University of Michigan Jazz Festival to be shown
otherwise. Here, they can observe students, teachers and
professionals alike honing their craft in an all-day affair.
This year’s celebration, which will be proclaimed
“Count Basie Day” by Gov. Jennifer Granholm, marks the
100th birthday of the late master of swing. The festival will span
the duration of the day, beginning with a bagel and jazz breakfast
at the School of Music and culminating with a concert at the Power
Learning about jazz is arguably just as important as listening
to it, so the bulk of the day will take place at the School of
Music. Visitors can attend instrument clinics, listen to historical
lectures and hear University students perform the music that they
have spent so much time studying. Most notable is the lecture
series in which special guest and legendary pianist Hank Jones will
host a discussion on the music of Count Basie.
After a day of sharing and learning, the Power Center stage will
be set for the evening’s concert. Headlining the event is the
Count Basie Orchestra which, under the lead of Grover Mitchell,
continue making music in the tradition of Basie’s renowned
style. Hank Jones will join the band onstage in addition to giving
a performance of his own. The concert will also feature
performances by the University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble, vocal
quintet Manhattan Transfer and jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks.