23rd Annual Jazz for Tots Program Entertains While Helping Needy Kids

 

KNOXVILLE—’Tis the season for Christmas music, community, and a giving spirit. Keith Brown has created a tradition of bundling these elements in the annual Jazz for Tots performance put on by the University of Tennessee Jazz Program.

This year’s performance will be at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 27, in the Cox Auditorium of the Alumni Memorial Building. The event is open to the public and as admission, attendees are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy to be donated to the Toys for Tots foundation, run by the U.S. Marine Corps.

Brown, an adjunct associate professor of music and director of the UT Jazz Big Band and other small jazz combos, first organized the performance twenty-three years ago with the idea of incorporating jazz ensembles in a concert benefitting the Toys for Tots campaign.

Performing groups begin preparing three to four weeks beforehand, taking traditional Christmas songs and arranging them into a jazz setting, with students mostly taking the lead to make their own creative arrangements.

“One of the most fun parts of the concert is to hear how clever the students are with their arrangements of traditional Christmas carols,” Brown said.

All sixty students in the UT Jazz Program participate, forming thirteen very diverse small groups and ensembles to perform for ten minutes apiece. Each group has different levels of experience, instrumentation, and ideas of how to play.

Brown said the students benefit a lot from this performance, even if they don’t realize it. Students range from freshmen to graduate-level. For some, this is their first concert, others have done this for years.

This will be the fourth year Bowman Townsend, a senior finishing a degree in jazz performance, has been involved with the event.

“This is a cool time for everyone,” he said. “We all get a chance to play fun music in front of our peers and family.”

The performance is not necessarily for kids, but children are more than welcome.

C O N T A C T :

Barbara F. Hill (865-974-8935, musicnews@utk.edu)

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