Easy listening jazz fills Jazz on the Hill on April 19
Jazz standards make for easy listening at Jazz on the Hill on Friday, April 19. As it’s done for decades, the outdoor concert ushers in Gala Weekend on campus. This year it’s also part of the first nation-wide observance of Jazz Appreciation Month.
Five bands, highlighted by the Purdue Jazz Band and the Harrison High School Jazz Band, are featured at the informal event, which runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 19 at Slayter Center. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring picnics and lawn chairs to Slayter’s grassy hill. Admission is free.
For the student musicians as well as the audience, the concert’s a chance to kick back and enjoy being outside, according to M.T. “Mo” Trout, director of jazz studies at Purdue University. “We try to play tunes where a lot of people get a chance to solo, and hit different styles of jazz. We do things that are fun to play,” he says.
One of Purdue’s first jazz musicians, 1954 Industrial Economics grad Chet Bauch from Dayton Ohio, will return to conduct several tunes he’s arranged for jazz band. In the early 1950s, “Spotts Emrick found I was the jazz burr under his saddle, and he invited me to leave the band program,” says Bauch who continued to promote jazz on campus and formed what was most likely Purdue’s first student jazz orchestra.
In Emrick’s defense, Bauch says there weren’t many universities that did offer jazz as part of their curriculum at that time. “We used to play with guys from Ohio State and they didn’t have one. Their faculty was as negative and antagonistic as Purdue, and they had a school of music,” he says.
Bauch did find support on campus. His 18-piece orchestra played numerous dances at the Purdue Union and even gave a few performances in Elliott Hall. Other band students secretly defied Emrick and performed with Bauch. Still, “we had to do everything on the sly. You have no idea what kind of nonsense we had to go through in those days,” he says.
After college Bauch worked for General Motors, then joined the US Navy where he continued to write arrangements and compositions for the Navy’s ComAirLant fleet big band in Jacksonville, Fla. Through several career moves, and a return to the University of Dayton for an electrical engineering degree, he continued to stay active as a conductor, saxophonist and writer/arranger. He now works with the various “ghost” bands - like the Nelson Riddle, Tommy Dorsey and Buddy Morrow orchestras - that criss-cross the country, and serves on the faculty at Ohio State as an arranger/composer. “I think I’m the only engineer they’ve ever had in that job,” he says.
Bauch will conduct “Count Buckwheat” with the Alumni Jazz Band, at the Slayter Concert and will also conduct the Purdue Jazz Band in “Perdido” and “Angel Eyes.”
Some of the other standards on the concert line-up include “I Love Paris,” “Night Train,” “Misty” and “Along Came Betty.”
Order of performance for the concert begins with the Purdue Concert Jazz Band followed by the Harrison High School Jazz Band, Purdue’s Lab Jazz Band and the Alumni Jazz Band. The evening is drawn to a close by Purdue Bands’ premier ensemble, the Purdue Jazz Band.