Something’s coming to JSU this week, and it’s going to be swinging. The Artie Shaw Orchestra, named after the legendary “King of Swing,” will be performing in Leone Cole Auditorium Friday night at 7:30.
The orchestra has been touring continuously since its inception, led first by Dick Johnson, then by Matt Koza following Johnson’s retirement in 2008. It has toured the world alongside other giants of the swing genre, such as Tony Bennett, Jack Jones and Buddy DeFranco.
Koza is an accomplished saxophonist and clarinetist, a native New Yorker, and an admirer of Artie Shaw’s style and performance. Having toured with the band extensively before taking up the mantle of bandleader, he’s no stranger to the world of big band swing, and is sure to lead a rousing performance.
Having been inspired by Shaw’s example his entire career, Koza is proud to be the man to spearhead his legacy—and what a legacy it is.
A pioneer of the “great swing” era of music, famed for his hit record “Begin the Beguine,” Artie Shaw was a talented clarinetist and soloist.
Fueled by the success of his first hit record, the aforementioned “Begin the Beguine,” he went on performing for two decades.
Shaw led a naval band in the south pacific during World War II, formed a dance band in the mid-1940s, and even recorded a few classical pieces later that decade. His last major act was to form the Gramercy 5 with such greats as Tal Farlow, Tommy Potter and Hank Jones, along with a few others.
After that final act he retired, quitting the music business entirely, or so it seemed. But a man like Artie Shaw had to leave a more permanent legacy than simple recordings and the occasional replay of an old film or television appearance. That legacy is coming to JSU on Friday night.
The orchestra will be making a stop on their latest tour in Jacksonville Friday night to play a variety of big band-style jazz pieces. Admission to the concert is free, so whether new to the jazz scene or a veteran of days when “Begin the Beguine” made its first big splash, all are encouraged to attend.