The Northern Arizona Big Band, a 17-piece band with a vocalist, is performing swing music from the past and present at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at the Elks Theatre Performing Arts Center’s Crystal Hall on the third floor, 117 E. Gurley St., Prescott.
If it’s been a while since you’ve dusted off your dancing shoes, or if you want to just give it a try for the first time, join The Bees Knees Dance Studio prior to the concert at 6 p.m. for a swing dance lesson at no additional charge. There will be plenty of room to dance and limited seating for those that prefer just to listen.
The band’s members are saxophonists Dave Russell on tenor one, Don Grise on tenor two, Ron Sampson on alto one, Randy Tremper on alto two and Jan Gurtner on baritone; trombone players Gerry Kuhn, Kevin Hilditch, Tim Thorne and Kelvin Audis; on trumpet are Brad Moors, Dave Scott, Dean Holbrook and Bud Hilditch; Larry Reineck on keys; Mark Stafford on bass; singer Lia Bomar; and Steven Bardin on drums.
Bardin, who is also the founder of the Northern Arizona Big Band, spoke with Across the Street ahead of the upcoming performance. The following interview was edited for length and clarity.
What do you like most about playing in
Everybody’s good. These guys are really committed. The oldest is 70-something, but they’re all in good shape and they’re all good and they play all the time. Living up here, you have to usually do something else, but about seven of us do performing and teaching full-time. The others are involved in some other, you know, businesses and things like that, but they play a lot. It’s just a really good group of guys and they sound good together.
They really like our vocalist. They really like playing for her. The best thing is just the camaraderie and the professionalism. When you have that combination, it works. You’re always in situations where it’s professional, but nobody gets along or everybody gets along, but it doesn’t work musically. So, we’re just really fortunate.
What do audiences respond to the most when they see
The quality of our sound. We’ve had two comments out of the six times we’ve done it for pay. One was that they enjoyed the professional type sound because we rehearse. The other is the dancers. The dancers like it — because we do certain sets to where you can tell. If you do three of the pieces then you do a slow piece and then you go back, you can kind of tell. We kind of cater to the dancers. A couple of them came to us about three shows in and said, “We like what you’re doing, but you’re playing too much Latin.” So we kicked out all but two of the Latin tunes because the younger [people] like the swing style because they can dance to it. I’d say we get two types of people that come — one is they just come to listen and they like the sound and the vocalist; the other is they can dance to it.
For more information about the performance or dance lessons, call 928-756-2844, or visit www.prescottelkstheatre.org.
To find out more about the Arizona Big Band, visit www.facebook.com/NorthernAZBigBand.
Jesse Bertel is a reporter/videographer for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @ JesseBertel, email him at email@example.com, or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2043.