FAU’s big band brings the swing to Boca residents

Austen Erblat

Kyle Prescott, Director of Bands, leads the big band cueing tempo, volume, and other musical changes. Photo by Ryan Murphy.
Kyle Prescott, Director of Bands, leads the big band cueing tempo, volume, and other musical changes. Photo by Ryan Murphy.

Two nights in a row, FAU’s big band sold out concerts in the University Theater, where they played popular swing-jazz songs from the 1930s and 40s.
The FAU “Jazz Rats” big band performed their second annual Summer concert in the University Theater at the Boca campus Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28. The shows were put on and conducted by Director of Bands Kyle Prescott.

Prescott’s band performed select swing standards by other bandleaders including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Glenn Miller.

The money earned from ticket sales went to paying the musicians for their work and the profits were donated to the FAU Theater Summer Festival Rep, which hosted these two concerts and three plays this summer. As of publication time, the amount of profit was not available, according to Prescott.

The band opened up with “In the Mood”, a popular swing standard by Glenn Miller. After the song, Prescott described the show as “the greatest music of the greatest generation.”

He then introduced singer, Kathryn Briner, an FAU graduate student studying classical french horn to sing “Witchcraft,” a 1957 pop song, originally sung by Frank Sinatra.

Derrick Newbold, an FAU Commercial Music alumnus and the band’s clarinet and sax player described the show as “a great concert.”
“The crowd loves it and we always get a standing ovation,” Newbold said. Then he explained how great it is to play with local professionals. Newbold graduated last Spring and is going to Michigan State University for his Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies.

Derrick Newbold plays his alto sax during a rehearsal. Photo by Ryan Murphy.
Derrick Newbold plays his alto sax during a rehearsal. Photo by Ryan Murphy.

Tom Wierzbicki, a first year grad student and Music Composition major at FAU, played piano in the concert.

During rehearsal, Wierzbicki told the UP, “This is the second year in a row that Dr. Prescott is doing this, and last year was really successful!”

Before performing Benny Goodman’s “Goodbye,” the last song of the first hour-long set, Prescott said a few more words about the show and the band.

“So much great music from the 30s and 40s and we’re keeping it alive through these young musicians.”

“This is the second year the group formed and is performing,” Taiki Azuma, teacher’s assistant and baritone saxophonist said.  “All of the saxophones are the same as last year’s and we also played regularly with each other for years so everything comes together quick and naturally.”

Azuma explained the repertoire was meant to “appeal to the audience,” who were primarily older people, and who were around to enjoy swing-jazz and other music to dance to when it was in its prime, from the 1920s through the 1960s.

Prescott, before introducing the last song, said to the crowd, “[FAU] is getting bigger and better! We’re becoming more a part of Boca Raton and Boca Raton is becoming more a part of us.”

The band closed the night with “One O’clock Jump” by The Count Basie Orchestra, and received a standing ovation.

“I’m so happy that the university supports this fantastic opportunity for us. For the students of FAU to connect with the community of Boca Raton. That means a lot to them and to us,” Prescott told the UP.