Jazz tour raises funds for hurricane victims

(From left to right) Robert Terry, senior music major; Luke Ochsenbein, sophomore music major; Joel Thomas, senior music major; Tom Smith, senior music education major; Damon Graue, senior music major; Kyle Babbitt, freshman music education major and Dr. Phil Wise, director of jazz studies have prepared a great deal in order to put on a show for Canadian jazz enthusiasts.

(From left to right) Robert Terry, senior music major; Luke Ochsenbein, sophomore music major; Joel Thomas, senior music major; Tom Smith, senior music education major; Damon Graue, senior music major; Kyle Babbitt, freshman music education major and Dr. Phil Wise, director of jazz studies have prepared a “great deal” in order to put on a show for Canadian jazz enthusiasts.

Music from a southern neighbor will touch the ears of the Yukon when the Missouri Southern Jazz Septet takes a weeklong tour in Canada.

The Septet will be visiting three venues, two in British Columbia and one in Alberta.

“Our first performance will be in Grand Forks, Canada,” said Dr. Phillip Wise, director of jazz studies. “Our tour will continue with visits to the Key City Theater in Cranbrook, British Columbia and the Rafter Six Resort in Ykesha, Alberta.”

“At each venue we’re playing a set list of 10 songs,” said Joel Thomas, senior music major.

“We’ll be playing old-school stuff, some of the classic bebop genre, a free jazz tune and new original stuff. Basically stuff from the 1930s to 2006.”

They will be touring from May 24-31.

“My goal is to afford my students an educational opportunity,” Wise said. “They’ll learn a great deal about this part of the world in the six or seven days we’re there.”

“I just want to get more experience in jazz,” said Luke Ochensenbein, sophomore music major. “It will be interesting to play for new people and hopefully we can get a good word out for [Southern] while we’re at it.”

Though the focus may be musical, the Septet’s tour also includes a noble cause.

“The purpose of the Rafter Six performance is to aid some high school students in Mississippi affected by Hurricane Katrina,” Wise said.

“It feels great to be helping out with this fund-raiser,” Ochensenbein said. “It feels great to be doing something for someone else. It was really unexpected, though, because we weren’t expecting to be doing it.”

Area high schools, collegiate area bands and other jazz groups will be involved in the jazz festival fund-raiser.

“The Southern Septet is the featured performing group in the fund-raiser,” Wise said.

Wise said Canadians are astute with music of all kinds.

“The music program in the area we’re performing in is very strong,” he said. “I’ve always been impressed with their skills as listeners. All of my correspondence with everyone regarding this trip has led me to believe they’re very knowledgeable about jazz.”

The amount of preparation going into this tour has been “extensive.”

“A good deal of preparation has gone into just the organizational aspects,” Wise said. “Musically, we’re ever expanding our horizons and trying new things. We’ve spent a good deal of time rehearsing.”

“I really think this will be a great educational endeavor for us and the college,” Thomas said.

Wise said the future holds many possibilities.

“As for future trips, I don’t know what the future may hold,” he said. “I certainly know that this tour should be a great opportunity for our students.”

For the Septet, this has been a good year, Wise said.

“The jazz program here at Southern is very strong, and this has been a very active year for us,” he said. “Anytime we can take students on these types of performance tours, I think it’s important that we do that and give them that opportunity.”