HARVIN COLUMN: Jump, Jive and Wail all night long
Wanna get up and Jump, Jive & Wail to your heart's content? That's what will be happening Saturday at the Charleston Visitor Center Bus Shed when the Charleston County School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble takes to the stage.
The group pulls together 24 of the top young jazz musicians in the state, a different sort of band from the big marching bands that fill the football fields right now.
These students know how to do this, and they put on a heck of a show. The annual Jump, Jive & Wail event has become an annual occasion for jazz lovers in the Charleston area and for anyone who wants to dance along with the music.
Don't even think you are going to listen to a student performance: This is an event that draws in everyone from the community, including the older jazz musicians who hang around off stage, looking to see who is going to be the next local great.
This 24-piece ensemble has performed at festivals and events in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and as far away as Indianapolis. It started as a way for students to have a professional jazz experience and has grown exponentially from there. And after 11 years of doing this, the whole school gets involved, says band Director Basil Kerr.
The band will perform three hours of music, including classic big band jazz hits such as “In the Mood” and “Tenor Madness,” great beach music tunes including “Myrtle Beach Days” and “Carolina Girls,” and great hits by Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power.
That's 36 pieces of music, a challenge even for seasoned performers.
And there are always a few surprises. As Kerr says, if a musician has a horn and shows up, then he gets an invite to sit down and join the fun.
Local jazzman and trumpeter Charlton Singleton has joined in with them in the past, and this year, Jason Bellack, arranger for Jazz Artists of Charleston, may show up.
They sell about 1,000 tickets for the evening, and Kerr says they are thinking of doing a time-lapse sequence of the set-up. The Bus Shed transforms from a cavernous space to an old-timey jazz club in a little under two hours.
At first, people get their food, and listen to music, but sometime in the first set, the band will play a dance number that everyone knows, and the shagging begins.
Kerr says it's fun to look out and see youngsters alongside grandparents, all boogeying to the same music and having a good time.
It's one of the big fundraisers for the band, and all the proceeds go back to the school and the students, paying to repair instruments, buying music and paying adjunct musicians for lessons.
This is one great family-friendly event and a chance to see the next generation of jazz musicians jiving through the night.
The event runs 7:30-11 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. To order tickets, call the school at 529-4990 or purchase online at www.soaband.com.
Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or sharvin@postand courier.com.