Folks attending the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage on Sunday will be treated to the sounds of one of the best collegiate performing groups in the area: the Bowie State University Jazz Band.
Eighteen undergraduate students flourish in the capable hands of director, Adolph E. Wright, who, in addition to teaching music and applied performance classes at Bowie, also conducts the concert and pep bands and his world famous "Symphony of Soul" marching band. Always eager to adapt to the venue at hand, Wright has chosen the jazz band, which promises a lively hour of the best in jazz composition.
"We'll cover contemporary works, as well as the classic composers like Miles Davis and Duke Ellington," Wright noted. "This group has never played Kennedy Center, and they are very excited."
|Bowie State University Jazz Band|
|Where: Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW|
|When: 6 p.m. Sunday|
|Info: Free; 800-444-1324, 202-467-4600; kennedy-center.org|
Bowie State University's music department is dynamic in that staff and students are very performance-driven. Wright, who came to the school 12 years ago from Howard University, built the marching band from 30 members in 1998 to 185 members strong by the fall of 2001. His students (both in the marching band and its jazz offshoots) are the glad recipients of his expertise in the composition and arrangement of both band and orchestral arrangements.
A talented musician in his own right, Wright's talent as a percussionist is well known, having toured with countless national and international entertainers including Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Lou Rawls, Aretha Franklin, Lionel Hampton, Gladys Knight and Jennifer Holliday, to name a few. Broadway credits include the musicals "God Spell," "Harlem Suite" and "The Wiz."
On Sunday, Wright's big band consists of five trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones and a rhythm section.
"If our audience is a watching audience, like at Blues Alley, we'll play ballads and a wider variety of music, because people are seated," Wright explained. "But with one hour in a place like the Millennium Stage, we'll keep [the music] high energy, because the audience will be standing."
And, no doubt, moving along with the beat.