FLORENCE — The University of North Alabama Studio Jazz Band will celebrate the music of love and the romantic spirit of Valentine’s Day with a special public performance at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, at Norton Auditorium on the UNA campus.
The Shoals Area Big Band will join the UNA Ensemble as special guests for "Love and All That Jazz," an evening of love songs and popular swing-music standards. Founded by the late Dr. Lyman Mitchell in 1979, the Big Band includes UNA professors, former UNA band members, local business owners, studio musicians, music educators and several first-class musicians from outside the Shoals.
“The Shoals Area Big Band is a special group of musicians like none other,” according to Dr. Lloyd Jones, an associate professor of music and UNA’s director of bands. “The members enjoy coming together and entertaining audiences with the uniquely American art form – jazz, and more specifically, big-band swing.”
Throughout its history, the Big Band has raised more than $80,000 in scholarship funds for the UNA band program. The group includes three original members: Dr. Jimmy Simpson (lead alto saxophone and clarinet), former chair of the UNA music department; Dr. Edd Jones (trumpet and arranger), former director of UNA’s band program; and UNA graduate Edsel Holden (trumpet and vocals). Many other current members joined the Big Band soon after its formation, including Mitch Rigel (drums), Terry Ownby (lead trumpet), Rick Burks (saxophone) and Dr. Lloyd Jones (saxophone and current leader).
“Still other members have joined by filling in as substitutes during rehearsals,” Lloyd Jones explained, “and as positions became available, they gained membership as regular performers. The more seasoned players have helped the younger players become strong performers through the years, and that tradition has lasted for 35 years.”
Jones added that he knows of no other big band in the region with that history of consistent musical longevity.