Bison Jazz Orchestra in Concert at Ritz April 30

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 2009-10 academic year Friday, April 30, at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Ritz Theater in downtown Shawnee.

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 up for use as a performance venue.

Oklahoma Baptist Univeristy's Bison Jazz Orchestra will be in concert Friday, April 30, at 7:30 p.m. in Shawnee's historic Ritz Theatre. The public is invited to attend.

This year's final concert will showcase a varied selection of big band music spanning the classic music of Count Basie with Frank Sinatra to more contemporary pieces written by Bob Mintzer and Pat Metheny.

"Variety is the word for this year's concert," said Pruiett. "The audience will get to experience the diversity of music which a big band can offer. The audience will also be entertained by the ensemble's performance of "Malagueña," a chart combining both Latin and swing, made famous by the Stan Kenton Orchestra.

The evening will once again feature student vocalist Micah McCaslin, a senior from Midwest City, Okla., on a number of songs including the classic "Come Fly with Me" as well as Antonio Carlos Jobim's "How Insensitive."

"For Micah's last year with the group, I decided to showcase her voice by choosing a number of very different styles for her to sing," Pruiett said. "From the soft sounds of a bossa nova to some roaring swing, the audience will really enjoy Micah's performance."

Guitarist Steven Soward, a senior from Grand Prairie, Texas, will be featured on a number of tunes including the great jazz guitarist Pat Metheny's "5-5-7" as well as Bob Curnow's adaptation of the music from "Riverdance."

"These are two of the more advanced pieces of repertoire that our group is playing for this year's show," Pruiett said. "I am confident that they will be crowd pleasers, and am sure that Steven will shine on both charts."

The evening also will showcase soloists Brandon Crnkovic, a senior from Tecumseh, Okla.; David Giaco, a junior from St. Charles, Mo.; Patrick Womack, a senior from Oklahoma City; and Caitlin Dacus, a junior from Overland Park, Kan.

"We have some very talented musicians in this year's group," Pruiett said. "Those in attendance will be impressed with what they hear."

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 OBU. Under Pruiett's direction, 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.

On May 16, the BJO will once again be travelling to Brazil for a nine-day tour of the northeastern area of the country. There will be a donation box at the concert for anyone wishing to help support the 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