Bison Jazz Orchestra In Concert May 4 at Ritz

Oklahoma Baptist University’s Bison Jazz Orchestra will perform its final concert of the 2006-07 academic year Friday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m. The concert will be at the historic Ritz Theater in downtown Shawnee.

The Ritz Theater, built around 1899 and originally constructed as a dry goods store, was the oldest and longest running family-owned and 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 as a performance venue.

The BJO is an auditioned 20-piece jazz ensemble featuring students who, in addition to music, are pursuing degrees in a variety of majors including cross-cultural ministry, children’s ministry, journalism, biology, applied ministry, and philosophy.

The BJO is directed by Kevin Pruiett, OBU assistant professor of music.

“This year’s final concert will display a wide variety of big band music that I am positive will be an entertaining evening for the entire family,” said Pruiett.

The jazz orchestra will perform music written for the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Charles Mingus Big Band and the Buddy Rich Big Band, as well as other pieces from the contemporary big band and swing repertoire.

One of the concert’s highlights will be a big band arrangement of Pat Metheny’s “Always and Forever,” featuring Pruiett as a soloist.

“By blending contemporary sounds with the instrumentation of a big band, arranger Bob Curnow has created a beautiful, contemporary flugelhorn feature that I am sure everyone will enjoy,” said Pruiett.

The evening also will feature student vocalist Micah McCaslin, a freshman from Midwest City, Okla. on the standard “S Wonderful,” “The Lady is a Tramp,” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).” McCaslin is featured on a gospel arrangement of “Amazing Grace.”

Sam Hinson, a senior from Shawnee, Okla., will be featured on the upright bass guitar.

According to Hinson, the piece, “Bass of Operations” by Bryan Kidd, is “one of the few times I get a solo. It can be intimidating and it keeps me on my toes, but it is a lot of fun.”

The evening also will showcase soloists Sarah Rizzo, a freshman from Owasso, Okla.; Heather Smith, a junior from Shawnee, Okla.; Timothy Thompson, a junior from Yukon, Okla.; Jordan Meyers, a freshman from Perkins, Okla., Tiffany Loewen, a freshman from Derby, Kansas; and Mandy Spicer, a junior from Oklahoma City, Okla.

During the concert, the BJO Outstanding Jazz Musician Award will be given to an orchestra member. The award, voted on by members of the ensemble, is the highest honor given to a jazz musician on the OBU campus.

The BJO has appeared at Jazz on Bell Street, Fine Arts Chapel, the annual M&M’s concert, and OBU’s Homecoming Gala. This year, the BJO performed at two “Live at the Black Box” programs on the OBU campus.

The downtown concert is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the OBU Fine Arts Department at 405-878-2305 or via email at