Bison Jazz Orchestra in Concert Friday, May 8

Oklahoma Baptist University's Bison Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Kevin Pruiett, associate professor of music, will perform its final concert of the 2008-09 academic year Friday, May 8, at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Ritz Theater in downtown Shawnee. The community is invited to attend the concert.

"We have really enjoyed the opportunity to perform at the Ritz over the last few years, and it just seems right to do it there again this year," Pruiett said. "The Bison Jazz Orchestra and the audience seem to really love the atmosphere."

The Ritz Theatre, built around 1899 and originally constructed as a dry goods store, was the oldest and longest running family-owned/operated movie theater in the State of Oklahoma when it closed in 1988. In recent years, the Society for Revitalization of Downtown Shawnee has opened it for use as a performance venue.

This year's final BJO concert will showcase a varied selection of big band music spanning the classic music of Duke Ellington and Count Basie to more contemporary pieces written by Astor Piazzolla and Pat Metheny.

"This year's concert will be an opportunity to hear the diversity of music which a big band can offer," said Pruiett.

The evening will once again feature student vocalist Micah McCaslin, a junior from Midwest City, Okla., on a number of songs including the classic "Orange Colored Sky" as well as Duke Ellington's "Bli-Blip."

"‘Bli-Blip' gives me a chance to break from the normal vocal stylings that audiences are used to hearing from me," McCaslin said. "I really hope that they enjoy it."

Guitarist Steven Soward, a senior from Grand Prairie, Texas, will also be featured on the performance including the great jazz guitarist Pat Metheny's "The First Circle."

"This is one of the most advanced pieces of repertoire that our group has played in my eight years at OBU," Pruiett said. "I am confident that it will be a crowd pleaser, and am sure that Steven will shine on this chart."

The young musician agreed the piece is a favorite.

"‘The First Circle' has challenged me in new ways, and it has been wonderful attempting to get inside the head of a true genius like Pat Metheny," Soward said.

The evening also will showcase soloists Sara Elliott, a sophomore from Bartlesville, Okla.; Kade Goforth, a sophomore from Tulsa, Okla.; Brandon Crnkovic, a senior from Tecumseh, Okla.; David Giaco, a junior from St. Charles, Mo.; Patrick Womack, a junior from Oklahoma City; Caitlin Dacus, a sophomore from Overland Park, Kan.; and Ian Hockett, a junior from Dallas, Texas.

During the concert, the BJO Outstanding Jazz Musician Award will be given to the orchestra member who has "rendered the most outstanding service to the organization during the year." The award, voted on by the members of the ensemble, is the highest honor given to a jazz musician on the OBU campus.

The Bison Jazz Orchestra, an auditioned 20-piece jazz ensemble, is the premiere jazz ensemble of the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts Division of Music at Oklahoma Baptist University. The Bison Jazz Orchestra performs a wide variety of big band repertoire ranging from music of the swing band era to contemporary big band works.

The ensemble performs regularly across the Oklahoma Baptist University campus and throughout the Shawnee community. Most notably, the BJO is the featured ensemble of the "Live at the Black Box" concert series, a production in association with the University Concert Series. In May 2008, the BJO traveled to Vitoria and São Paulo, Brazil, for a nine-day tour.

The OBU Division of Music offers degrees in performance, musical arts, music education, and a liberal arts degree with emphasis in music. For more information, contact the Division of Music at (405) 878-2305 or via e-mail to