Imagine a speakeasy without the alcohol, smoking or flapper-esque clothing; all that remains are the big band-style jazz tunes, swing dancing and good old-fashioned fun. Friday’s Swing Dance Concert in Chumash Auditorium will feature the live music of the University Jazz Band No. 1, and all levels of swing dancers and jazz aficionados are welcome.
The big band format includes trumpets, trombones, saxophones and a drummer, among other instruments. Vocalist and music sophomore Kristen Choi will be performing with the band on Friday, music professor Paul Rinzler said.
The concert goes from 8 to 10:30 p.m. with a free East Coast swing lesson at 7 p.m. offered by the Cal Poly Swing Dance Club. Tickets can be purchased at the door and are $9 for the public and $6 for students.
“There’s usually a pretty good turnout,” said Kim Daum, president of the Cal Poly Swing Dance Club and horticulture junior.
The 20-or-so members of the University Jazz Band No. 1 are students in MU 370, University Jazz Band, and perform one or two swing dance concerts per quarter. The class is repeatable, and some students have been in the band for more than three years.
Rinzler came up with the idea for the dances.
“I’m the musical director (of the Jazz Band); I determine the repertoire and how fast the song is going to be played,” he said. “I provide the overall vision for the band.”
In addition to the swing concerts, the University Jazz Band No. 1 performs formal concerts in the Performing Arts Center and has gigs around San Luis Obispo. “We have gigs on campus, off campus and regionally in California,” Rinzler said. The band played at the alumni barbecue and wine tasting for this year’s Homecoming and at the Jazz Jubilee in Pismo Beach in October.
Every few years, the band goes on a foreign tour. It went to China in 2004 and is going to Brazil in June.
The last swing dance concert of the quarter will be on May 11 in Chumash, according to a music department press release.
“It’s great musically because samba and bossa nova were invented in Brazil but are a big part of jazz band,” Rinzler said.
The Cal Poly Swing Dance Club offers lessons every Sunday in the Architecture building, room 225, at 1 p.m. for intermediate dancers and at 2 p.m. for beginners. Lessons are $1 each.
From May 4 to 6, the club is hosting the second San Luis Obispo Lindy Exchange, which offers three full days of “Swinging in the Rain.”
Live bands and DJs from all over California will accompany the all-day lessons, competitions and dances throughout the weekend.
“It’s going to be really, really big,” Daum said. Saturday night’s dance in Chumash will be the biggest of the exchange, and the club is trying to get lots of Cal Poly students out to it, she said.
More information, including pre-registration, can be found on the event’s Web site, www.sloswing.com/slx.
The University Jazz Band Nos. 1 and 2 and the Cal Poly Jazz Combo will perform in the PAC on June 1. More information can be found on www.pacslo.org.