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Cardinal Jazz Orchestra concert offers classic jazz with a contemporary twist

Cardinal Jazz Orchestra RehearsalThe Cardinal Jazz Orchestra’s fall concert will put a fresh spin on the music of jazz legends Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Herbie Hancock and more on Thursday, Oct. 8. The free concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Rothwell Recital Hall on the campus of Lamar University.

The 17-member Cardinal Jazz Orchestra consists of the instruments traditionally used during the big band era of the 1930s and 1940s: five saxophones, four trombones, four trumpets, and a rhythm section, including piano, bass, guitar and drums.

“Although we utilize the same kinds of instruments that were used 75 years ago, the music we play is far more sophisticated and contemporary,” said orchestra director Rick Condit. “We will even perform some of the same tunes from that era, like Duke Ellington’s ‘Take the A Train’ and George Gershwin’s ‘Our Love Is Here to Stay,’ but the difference is that our arrangements employ contemporary rhythms and harmonies which result in a fresh and exciting sound.”

Condit started this fall as LU’s associate professor of saxophone and jazz studies after holding the position last year as a visiting instructor. Prior to coming to LU, Condit was director of jazz studies at McNeese State University for 30 years.

“I was honored and excited to be asked to take over a program of such high quality,” said Condit. “The stature and reputation of LU’s jazz band is well known throughout the region. Our orchestra requires a high level of dedication and talent from the students in order to accurately represent the style of the music. Our students did a wonderful job last year, and this year’s group has the potential to be spectacular.”

One of the highlights of the previous academic year was the opportunity for the Cardinal Jazz Orchestra to perform at the Jefferson Theatre with the Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra, a band composed of musicians who played with influential American orchestra leader and composer Stan Kenton (1911-1971) and other jazz greats such as Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman and Count Basie.

“Opening for the Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra last April was a fantastic learning experience for all of us,” said lead trumpeter Eric Diaz, of Baytown. “The Kenton orchestra came to LU for a clinic before the concert, and that gave us a great opportunity to listen and ask questions of professionals. Now we’re able to perform a much higher level of music.”

The Mary Morgan Moore Department of Music is located at 4400 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Beaumont, TX 77710. For more details, call (409) 880-8144 or visit