Jazz Ensemble concert pays tribute to popular 1960s band

Rebecca Watters

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The longest playing big band in Lexington history will be honored Thursday night, in the Rep Band and the UK Jazz Ensemble’s tribute concert to The Men of Note, a popular band that was founded in 1967.

The Men of Note play 1900s dance music and were popular in Lexington during their 42 years of performing.

“The … concert will be an opportunity for the community to revisit the great big band music that the Men of Note delivered for over 40 years,” said Gail Kennedy, UK Arts & Outreach librarian. “The occasion will also let the community know about the valuable resources now available at UK Libraries Special Collections that document the Men of Note, the music of the big band era and the cultural history of this time period in Lexington.”

UK students in the Rep Band and the UK Jazz Ensemble have been preparing for the concert since February. In addition to playing the music of Men of Note, students will perform with former members of the music group.

About 40 students will be playing in the concert, and two dozen Men of Note members will be attending, some to watch the concert and others to play with the students.

Rep Band Director Brad Kerns and Jazz Ensemble Director Miles Osland have been preparing their bands for months, including weekly rehearsals. For Kerns, the already successful Jazz Ensemble will only continue to improve from the concert.

“The jazz studies and jazz ensemble here are some of the best in the country,”  Kerns said. “Students benefit from performing in ensembles and working with one another.”

Aside from working as a team, Osland said students from both the Jazz Ensemble and Rep Band will benefit from working with former professional musicians. 

“It will be really cool having these experienced musicians sit with us,” Osland said. “It’s a great opportunity for students to work with professionals in their field.”

One of these Men of Note performers includes UK alum Byron Romanowitz, who has donated the collection to the UK Library, which will be sponsoring the concert. According to Ruth Bryan, Director of Technical Services & University Archives at UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center, Romanowitz’s donation is an exciting addition to the UK Library. 

“I’m interested in how the collections can add to our understanding of the history of jazz performance and education at UK,” Bryan said. “Byron was a student at UK, so some of his early recordings include groups he played with at UK, as well as documentation of the ban in 1951 on teaching jazz on campus and the slow reinstatement of jazz studies starting in the early 1960s.” 

The concert aims to be both entertaining and historical, according to professor of music theory and former Men of Note member Dick Domek. Domek will be introducing the Men of Notes players at the concert.

“This style of music, big band, is still played today. It’s an important part of musical history and style,” Domek said.

The concert is Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Singletary Recital Hall. It is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the performance.