Patrick Trautfield

Duke Ellington, one of the great jazz musicians, once wrote in a song with the same title, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” If his words still ring true, then the Central Coast is in for a treat.

This Friday, jazz-lovers and dance-enthusiasts alike will find their match as Cal Poly’s University Jazz Band No. 1 holds a dance featuring swing-era music from 8 to 10:30 p.m. in Chumash Auditorium.

The dance, which is part of a series of swing dance concerts, is open to the public. For the past five years or so, the jazz band has been performing in this capacity as opposed to merely performing in traditional concerts.

“I thought it’d be fun to do a dance – Duke Ellington, Count Basie, all the greats from the past, did dances,” said jazz band director Paul Rinzler. “It has great educational value as well. The students have to learn and be able to play a lot of music, as well as the standard repertoire. And it’s a fun thing for them to do.”

Whereas the standard concert for a university band lasts about 30 minutes, the concert Friday night will require the performers to play a two-and-a-half hour set. Music by Count Basie, Tito Puente, Duke Ellington and many others will be played.

And then there’s the dancing.

Free swing dancing lessons will be offered at 7 p.m., and Krystal White, an instructor with Cal Poly’s swing dance club, will teach those interested in the basics of swing dancing before hitting the floor.

Her hope is to give others a passion, or at least an appreciation, for dancing. “I love to dance and I love music. My whole goal in doing this is to get others to love it, too,” White said.

Admission to the dance is $6 for students and $9 for the general public.

The University Jazz Band will also be performing five additional times this quarter, including another swing dance March 2 and a concert Feb. 24 featuring Andy Martin, one of the most technically proficient trombonists today, according to Rinzler.

More information can be found at http://music.calpoly.edu or http://jazzbands.calpoly.edu, or by calling 756-5792.

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