Last summer, the Glenn Miller Orchestra took listeners at the Fox Theatre on a musical trip back through time to the Swing Era. That big band sound will be coming to the Fox again, this time courtesy of a Bethel College jazz group.
Bethel College Jazz Ensemble I will perform a "Spring Swing" concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 1, at the Fox Theatre in Newton. Admission is free, but a free will offering will be taken for the Bethel jazz studies program and ongoing renovations at the Fox. The show will feature classics from Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman.
"We decided it would be fun to do a swing show," said Joel Linscheid, director of the jazz ensemble. "... We're excited about some ties between the Fox and Bethel."
The concert brings Linscheid to familiar territory. He graduated from Bethel College, toured with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and is now serving as director of jazz studies/instructor of music at Bethel while another staff member is on sabbatical.
He had been watching the renovation of the Fox Theatre and talked to the board about a concert that could benefit the college and the theater. He also became a member of the Fox board.
Linscheid is excited about the opportunity to introduce students to big band music. He said the students' education at Bethel typically includes a more modern repertoire, but it's also good for them to learn jazz classics.
"Sometimes we forget that older style and the importance of being able to play that music," he said. "... It's good to hear the students playing them, and to hear them get into this style."
He said the students have been rehearsing since the last week of January, and the concert has been a good opportunity to teach students that in the music industry, they may not always have a long time to prepare for a show. Linscheid wants them to be able to learn quickly and perform under pressure.
The students have risen to the challenge.
"They're playing it really at a high level," he said. "I've been impressed with their work on this."
Several guests artists — who also have Newton connections — will be featured at the concert. Saxophone player Brett Jackson graduated from Newton High School in 2004 and Bethel College in 2009; trumpet player Aaron Linscheid graduated from NHS in 2003 and Bethel in 2008; and bass player Jeff Harshbarger graduated from NHS in 1993.
"I thought it would be fun to have them back," Linscheid said.