UNA Bands, Lyman Mitchell Big Band of the Shoals Gear up for Feb. 14 Big Band Valentine's Day Bash

Jan. 29, 2013


FLORENCE, Ala. – The University of North Alabama Studio Jazz Band and the Lyman Mitchell Big Band of the Shoals will present their annual Big Band Valentine’s Day Bash Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Norton Auditorium. The bands have prepared a night of music that meanders through selections of the finest Big Band hits and love songs from the Swing era.

The Lyman Mitchell Big Band of the Shoals will perform the first half of the show. Founding member of the Big Band of the Shoals, Dr. Jimmy Simpson, will be featured in the Duke Ellington hit “Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me” as well as in Artie Shaw’s “Begin the Beguine.”

Simpson has anchored the band as lead alto saxophone for 35 years. He also served as chair of the UNA music department for more than 30 years.

Other founding members still performing with the Lyman Mitchell Big Band of the Shoals are Dr. Edd Jones, trumpet; and Edsel Holden, vocalist.

More Swing favorites to anticipate are Tommy Dorsey’s “Getting Sentimental Over You,” featuring Dr. Eddie Elsey on trombone, Les Brown’s “Leap Frog,” Woody Herman’s “Woodchopper’s Ball” and Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood.”

Vocal soloists will include Donna Berryhill, of Muscle Shoals, featured on Rosemary Clooney’s and Prez Prado’s hit “Sway,” and Edsel Holden, featured on the Louis Armstrong hit “What a Wonderful World.”

The Big Band of the Shoals has performed regularly since 1979. Performances have included annual benefit concerts for UNA Bands since 1986, raising more than $100,000 for Band Performance Awards and equipment purchases for UNA’s student musicians. The long-standing alliance between the two bands stems from the fact that all but only four members of the Big Band of the Shoals have either taught in UNA’s Department of Music and Theatre or played with the UNA Bands.

“The UNA Bands program is proud of its association with Dr. Lyman Mitchell’s Big Band of the Shoals, and we hope to continue to collaborate in the future,” Jones said. “(Mitchell’s) legacy is that of a life-long musician who was always willing to do whatever necessary to support the cause of music education at UNA. He was instrumental in keeping America’s art form, jazz, alive and well in the Shoals.”

The UNA Studio Jazz Band, directed by Jones, will perform the second half of the show. It will open with the Glenn Miller version of W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues.” The show will also include sevearl Broadway love songs, including hits from “West Side Story,” “My Fair Lady,” “Brigadoon,” “A Little Night Music” and “The Sound of Music.”

Vocalist Kayla Flannagan, a freshman from Athens, Ala., will accompany the UNA Bands on a trio of love songs: the 1934 hit “All I Do Is Dream of You,” Neil Sedaka’s “Breakin’ Up Is Hard to Do” and the Stevie Wonder hit “For Once in My Life.”

Flannagan is studying music education at UNA and plays alto saxophone and bass clarinet for the UNA Bands.

The evening will conclude with a Gordon Goodwin original, “Sing, Sang, Sung.” This powerhouse arrangement will feature two of UNA’s music education students: principal clarinetist Bryant Sharply, of Avon, Ind., and set-player Christian Clark, of Huntsville.

The evening will also include drawings for door prizes from local restaurants and businesses.

General-admission tickets are $10, or $5 for students, and may be purchased at the door. Admission is free to all active and retired military personnel. All proceeds from the concert support UNA Bands.

For more information, contact the UNA Department of Music and Theatre at 256-765-5122.