ST. GEORGE — Celebrating over a decade of providing Southern Utah with professional big band music, the Rebel Jazz Band is excited to announce its upcoming season of events beginning with a free holiday concert.
“A Big Band Christmas” will feature familiar favorites and new arrangements of classic Christmas tunes, jazz standards and big band songs. The concert will take place Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Dixie State University Eccles Concert Hall, 225 S. 700 East, St. George.
The Rebel Jazz Band had a true grassroots beginning, director Glenn Webb said. There were a few people in town asking about whether there was a big band that could play for events like dances, so a bunch of talented musicians put one together, he added.
Webb said he thought maybe it would be a one-time thing, but word quickly spread and the band was asked to play for the city of St. George’s Sweetheart Swing. Since then, the band has played at events throughout Southern Utah for more than 10 years.
The 18-piece band, often accompanied by a professional vocalist, plays classic ’30s and ’40s big band and swing music as well as jazz. Many of the musicians also create new arrangements of familiar songs, Webb said.
The big band sports sections of trumpets, trombones and saxophones, in addition to the standard rhythm section of bass, guitar, drums and keyboard. Big bands, like those of legendary band leaders Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey, became popular in the 1930s. Big bands remain popular under names such as Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble and Brian Setzer, according to a press release.
Their season typically lasts from late November to May and includes a holiday concert, appearances at St. George Streetfest, the St. George Jazz Festival, the city of St. George Sweetheart Swing, the St. George Arts Festival, the 1940s Hangar Dance and a spring concert. The band is also available for hire for private events.
“The talent level is great,” Webb said. “This is a fully professional band. We are not hobbyists.”
The band is known in the southwest region as being one of the most active professional musical groups, Webb said, adding that the musicians are all very easy to work with and fun to be around.
When not playing together, most of the band members play and/or teach professionally in the area.
Webb said that even though the style of music creates a certain nostalgia for those who lived during the ’30s, ’40s and even ’50s, the music is accessible for any age.
“Jazz is interactive with the audience in a lot of different ways,” Webb said. “We create a very relaxed and fun environment.”
The Rebel Jazz band is supported by the recreation, arts and parks tax from both the city of St. George and Washington County.
“It is so great to live in a city that truly supports the arts,” Webb said.
Following their holiday concert, the band will be gearing up for the fourth annual “St. George Jazz Festival” held Jan. 31-Feb. 1. The festival serves a dual purpose for the band which not only shares music but also musical education.
Throughout the weekend, jazz bands from area junior high and high schools will have the opportunity to participate in clinics and learn from professional musical guests. On the evening of Feb. 1, the community is invited to attend a concert featuring musical artists Chuck Findley (trumpet) and Bob Reynolds (tenor saxophone) along with the Rebel Jazz Band.
More information on the upcoming St. George Jazz Festival can be found here.
- What: Rebel Jazz Band holiday concert, “A Big Band Christmas.”
- When: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: DSU Eccles Concert Hall, 225 S. University Ave. (700 East), St. George.
- Cost: Free.
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