News Release

Jim Widner Big Band in concert with Evangel Jazz Orchestra, April 27

April 25, 2017 | Mallory Johnson


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Evangel University Jazz Orchestra will host the Jim Widner Big Band in a concert of big band songs on Thursday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the Barnett Recital Hall.

The concert is free and open to the public. The Barnett Fine Arts Center is located just south of the Robert H. Spence Chapel, facing Glenstone Ave.

“It will be an honor to have this great band on our campus,” said Joel Griffin, assistant professor of music and director of jazz studies. “Jim Widner is a legend in jazz education, and this will be one of this year’s musical highlights at Evangel,”

TWEET 2016-11.10 Evangel Jazz Orchestra

The Evangel University Jazz Orchestra. // PHOTO BY: Lane Simmons (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

The Evangel University Jazz Orchestra will perform three songs on this program. The rest of the evening will feature the Jim Widner Big Band.

The Evangel selections will include two pieces from the Tonight Show Band featuring Doc Severinsen, “Begin the Beguine” and “Take the A Train,” as well as an original composition by New York saxophonist Dave Pietro, “Karuna.”

“Dave’s piece is unpublished, and as far as I know it has never been performed publically before,” Griffin said.

On a personal note, Griffin added, “It was Father’s Day 1997 when I heard this band for the first time. After hearing them play, I knew that I wanted to be a jazz musician for the rest of my life.”

2017-B Joel Griffin

Evangel University’s Director of Bands, Joel Griffin. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Live streaming of the concert will be available online at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/16105363 .

About the Jim Widner Big Band

Jim Widner, former bassist with Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and the Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Buddy DeFranco, is celebrating his 30th year anniversary as leader of the Jim Widner Big Band and his summer jazz camps.

He serves as a professor and director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he directs the UMSL Jazz Ensemble.

Widner has performed at the world-famous Lionel Hampton and Montreaux (Switzerland) Jazz Festivals, as well as on tours of Japan, Europe, Australia and China.

His performance background includes concert dates with Clark Terry, Lou Marini, Louie Bellson, Mulgrew Miller, Bucky Pizzarelli, Wycliff Gordon, Randy Brecker, Bill Watrous, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and an appearance before former President Bill Clinton.

Widner is a recipient of Downbeat magazine’s Achievement Award for his work in jazz education, and he has been featured in articles in both Downbeat and JazzEd magazines.

Jim is a Yamaha and D’Addario Performing Artist. He was a founding member of the Jazz Education Network and served on its Board of Directors.

The Jim Widner Big Band records on the Chase Music Group label and their albums include, “Yesterdays and Today,” “Body and Soul,” “Live, The Jim Widner Big Band Rides Again,” “Flying High,” “Out of This World,” and “The Beat Goes On.”

Other musicians in the band include Chip Stevens, Dave Pietro, Todd Strait, Chip McNeil, Rick Haden, Ricardo Esquilin and others. Joel Griffin will be playing second alto saxophone with the band.

Evangel’s Department of Music

The Evangel University Department of Music offers a variety of degree programs in music, including music performance, music education, music business, recording technology and worship leadership.

The department has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) since 1970.

For more information, contact the Music Department at (417) 865-2811, ext. 7212.

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