Featuring smooth music and great food, Northeastern State University’s Jam-Balaya dinner and concert returns to the Jazz Lab Friday, Jan. 31 as part of the 2013-’14 Green Country Jazz Series.
The dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. and the NSU Jazz Ensemble performs at 8 p.m. Special guest is trumpeter Al Hood.
Dr. Tommy Poole, director of jazz studies at NSU, said Jam-Balaya is always a popular concert in the series.
“We have held this event for several years, and people often ask me when Jam-Balaya will happen and who will be the guest artist,” Poole said. “It has been great to be able to make this fundraiser coincide with visits by guest artists. Great music and food - what could be better?”
Poole said many of the jazz program’s biggest supporters make a point of attending Jam-Balaya.
“These donors know what a special thing it is to have a nationally recognized jazz studies program with a fantastic guest artist roster right here in Tahlequah,” he said. “They also know that these NSU students, who they hear getting more proficient every year, go on to have prolific careers in jazz or commercial music. They see Jam-Balaya as an opportunity to show their support.”
Hood, a native of Pumpkin Hook, N.Y., is a trumpet performer and music educator. He has toured with the Phil Collins Big Band and performed onstage with Wynton Marsalis, Doc Severinson, Natalie Cole and Ray Charles.
He also has appeared in the Woody Herman, Glenn Miller and Harry James orchestras. He’s an associate professor of trumpet at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music.
He directs the school’s jazz ensemble and performs with its artist-in-residence ensembles, the faculty brass quintet Aries, and the faculty jazz combo Climb.
“Al was working on his doctorate in the 1990s at the University of Texas in Austin when I was there getting my bachelor’s degree,” Poole said. “We played in the UT-Austin Jazz Orchestra together. I remember being a young punk in the band listening to Al play the most beautiful jazz solos.”
Prior to teaching at the University of Denver, Hood also taught at UT-Austin, the University of Miami and the University of Richmond.
“When you meet him, in two seconds you know that this is a guy with tremendous love for music,” Poole said. “And when he plays, you’re just blown away.”
Hood will perform onstage with the NSU Jazz Ensemble and Poole during Jam-Balaya. The dinner will include a serving of jambalaya as the main course. Beverages include lemonade, iced tea and coffee, and dessert is bourbon sugar bread pudding. The event also includes a silent auction, and winning bids will be announced near the end of the evening. Admission is available at the door, but reservations are recommended.
The NSU Jazz Lab is at 315 N. Muskogee Ave. Tickets for the dinner are $35 per couple or $20 for individuals. For reservations or more information, call (918) 444-4603, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Jazz Lab is also online at nsujazzlab.com or facebook.com/jazzlab.