Swingtime Big Band

Killeen-based Swingtime Big Band rehearsed Tuesday at the Cultural Activities Center in Temple in preparation for today’s combination dance/concert. The event is a fundraiser for musical education programs at the nonprofit center. Saxophonists, from left, Kirk Walters of Killeen, Arthur Murphy of Killeen, Melody Alleman of Killeen and Dave Hooten of Waco.

Courtesy photo

At Temple’s Cultural Activities Center, saxophonists adjusted their reeds, trombonists fitted slides to their horns and trumpeters oiled valves before Tuesday’s rehearsal.

Killeen’s Swingtime Big Band was tuning up instruments and arranging their sheet music in preparation for today’s return engagement at the center.

“It’s great to be booked here again,” said trumpeter Ed Hernandez of Harker Heights. “We played at the CAC for the first time back in April, and had a wonderful audience.”

The cacophony of 15 musicians running scales, arpeggios and excerpts gave way to the smooth, suave sounds of swing as bandleader Steve Pettit counted off the Jimmy Dorsey hit “So Rare,” which featured soloist Melody Alleman of Killeen on alto sax.

Today’s event is billed as a combination dance and concert.

“There will be plenty of tables and chairs around the perimeter,” said Jane Boone, marketing director for the nonprofit center. “Folks can listen as well as dance. We’ll have cold drinks available, or ticket holders can bring their own.”

The dance/concert is a fundraiser, with proceeds from ticket sales and refreshments designated for CAC musical education programs.

“We have fun performing here,” Pettit said, “and raising money for the CAC makes it even more enjoyable.”

Swingtime Big Band is made up of music educators, part- and full-time professional musicians. The group is in its fifth season and performs music “from the 1940s through present-day, with lots of danceable tunes,” said pianist Les Young of Austin.

And Friday’s event will even have a mini-dance floor roped off for kids, Boone said.

“It’s definitely a family-friendly evening,” she said. “Children’s tickets are only $2 and we had a lot of families in April. The mix of all ages and the way everybody enjoyed this great music convinced us to book Swingtime again.”

An eclectic mix of music is promised, Pettit said. “The hits from Glenn Miller, Harry James, Count Basie are combined with tunes from Tower of Power, Carole King and Etta James. We’ve got lots of Latin and waltzes for the serious ballroom dancers, too.”

About 40 selections will be performed, he said. Keely Allison of Austin, handles vocal duties on songs like “Sentimental Journey,” “Unforgettable” and the R&B hit “Knock On Wood.”

The jazz talents of the ensemble were on full display as “Tuxedo Junction” showcased growling trombones, sultry saxes and a tour de force finale, which had the trumpet section striding in front of the band for a final shout chorus.

As the group took a 10-minute break, Hernandez was all smiles. “I don’t know who enjoys this more — the audience or us.”

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