Jazz sets the backdrop for TroyFest

Posted: Wednesday, 23 April 2008

TROY – When TroyFest crowds gather on Troy’s historic Square Saturday it will likely be to the back drop of jazz music, which will feature the first-ever performance of two arrangements created especially for Troy University’s jazz ensembles.

Hollywood composer and arranger Bill Liston, best known for his musical work in “Spiderman 3” and “I Dream of Genie,” provided special arrangements of “What a Wonderful Life” that will be performed by the University’s jazz ensemble with special guest Jim Bell and “Heidi Ho,” which will be performed in a grand finale by Troy’s own Sheila Jackson.

“Mr. Liston is a personal friend of (director of TROY bands) Ralph Ford who asked him to create the arrangements,” said Ray Smith, an associate professor of music in the John M. Long School of Music and an organizer of the Troy University Jazz Ensemble.

In addition to the debut of the new arrangements, which will take place during the final performance of the afternoon, 10 jazz bands in all will take part in the day-long TroyFest Jazz Fest.

Leading off the performances at 11 a.m. will be the newly created Troy University Dixieland Jazz Band, a New Orleans French Quarter-style company.

Also performing will be Northview High School Jazz Band at 11:30; the Pike County High School Jazz Band at 12 p.m.; Troy University Jazz Band – 2 at 12:30 p.m.; the Charles Henderson High School Jazz Band at 1 p.m; Troy University Wednesday Night Jazz Combo at 2 p.m.; the Troy Jazz Chamber Ensemble at 2:45 p.m.; the Carol High School Jazz Band at 3:30 p.m.; and the Troy University Jazz Ensemble-1 with Jackson and Bell begins at 4 p.m.

Both Jackson and Bell are Troy natives. Jackson currently serves as tourism director and for the City of Troy. She is a nationally acclaimed vocalist.

Bell, a pianist and member of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, served as choir director and music teacher at Charles Henderson Middle School for more than 20 years. He formed the “Jim Bell Trio” in the mid-1970’s. He has also been a member of “The Duke Groiner Trio,” touring nationally with the group for two years.