KU School of Music celebrating 50 years of jazz with 2 concerts

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KU Jazz Studies program students and alumni will perform in concerts Friday and Saturday celebrating five decades of the university’s “official” jazz program.

But the commemoration is also for “the ‘unofficial’ bands that existed beforehand,” according to a KU news release.

Since the program began with its first jazz ensemble in 1972, it has grown to include three big bands, 11 jazz combos, a vocal jazz ensemble, and numerous classes in jazz and commercial music, according to the release.

Both concerts start at 7:30 p.m. at the Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive. Here’s what to expect:

• On Friday, Oct. 28, “current performers for KU Jazz Ensemble I will present a tribute to saxophonist and woodwind artist Gary Foster, with guest soloists Steve Houghton (drums), Matt Otto and Paul Haar (saxophones), Ron McCurdy (trumpet), Jeff Harshbarger (bass) and others,” according to the release.

“Foster, a 1962 graduate of KU and a native of Leavenworth, is one of the most celebrated jazz and commercial music artists from the Los Angeles scene, with performance and recording credits including Barbra Streisand, Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra and Mel Torme along with a list of some of the most important jazz artists of the past 50 years. He also appears on more than 500 motion picture soundtracks.”

• On Saturday, Oct. 29, “KU alumni from the past 50 years will perform in big bands and a vocal jazz ensemble, and they will be directed by the program’s four directors — Robert Foster (the founder of the program in 1972), James Barnes, Ron McCurdy and Dan Gailey.”

Tickets cost $11 for children, seniors, KU students, faculty and staff; they’re $13.50 for adults. Tickets are available via lied.ku.edu, or by calling 785-864-2787.

Event sponsors include Reach Out Kansas Inc. and the Zakoura Family Fund, a fund of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, according to the release.

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