Jazz lovers converged on the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall Wednesday night for the UA Little Rock Jazz Band’s first performance of the school year.
The band, directed by Dr. Michael Underwood, was comprised of mostly students, and one notable addition: vocalist Shonniesa Gaston.
“For tonight, this was one of her first performances here at UALR. She’s a non-traditional student, of course. But she’s very interested in learning how to sing, and so it’s actually been great to see her,” Underwood said. “I’m just looking forward to hearing her develop because I like her sound.”
Underwood said the band has featured a vocalist only once before, with mixed results. He said the main goal of the evening was for the band to sound as good as possible.
“That’s kind of the goal with any jazz band, you try to highlight the soloists that play the best or that are really wanting to,” Underwood said. “There are some people who have never improvised, ever.”
The evening’s program featured mostly jazz standards from the likes of George Gershwin and Dizzy Gillespie. Underwood said he’s excited to see the progress his band makes over the year.
“You have some people that are really strong, and other people who are fairly green, and it just takes a while to learn the style,” Underwood said. “It’s a process.”
Music lovers who want to find out more about the UA Little Rock concert series can find out more at http://ualr.edu/music/concert-schedule/.