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THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2007
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Hartselle High band director Randall Key, far left, directs members of the school's jazz band, from left, Seth 'The Slide' Turner, Jake 'Stix' Wooley, David 'Pops' South, Dallas 'The Captain' Kalber and Doug 'Slow Grooves' Teuscher. The group will perform at the 14th annual Big Band Bash on April 5 at 7 p.m. at the Princess Theatre. This year's event will feature a special tribute to its founder, the late Paul Stroud.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Hartselle High band director Randall Key, far left, directs members of the school's jazz band, from left, Seth "The Slide" Turner, Jake "Stix" Wooley, David "Pops" South, Dallas "The Captain" Kalber and Doug "Slow Grooves" Teuscher. The group will perform at the 14th annual Big Band Bash on April 5 at 7 p.m. at the Princess Theatre. This year's event will feature a special tribute to its founder, the late Paul Stroud.

Big Band Bash
Hartselle High, UNA jazz bands, musicians to honor event's late founder, Paul Stroud

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com 340-2446

Paul Stroud loved Big Band music, and he spent many hours making it available to Decatur area residents, whether he was playing his saxophone or booking other groups.

On April 5, his fellow musicians and area bands will make the 14th annual Big Band Bash a tribute to Stroud, who died Sept. 26 at age 83. The program will start at 7 p.m. at the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts.

The Hartselle High School Jazz Band and The University of North Alabama Studio Jazz Band will play. Also participating in this tribute will be Emerson Scott, Buddy Chambers, David Pointer, Gil Smith, Watha Tucker, Charlie Lyle and many more of Stroud's musician friends.

Stroud began playing the saxophone in 1938 and helped organize The Sophisticated Swingers, a Big Band and swing music group, in the 1980s. He developed the free Monday night concerts program about 1990, after participating in a similar series in Huntsville. First known as Concerts in the Park, the series was named Paul Stroud Concerts by the River in 2005, and he was a frequent performer at the May to September programs in Rhodes Ferry Park.

He also founded the Big Band Bash as a way to keep the Big Band sound alive while helping mentor and train young musicians. The event is a fundraiser for the Princess Theatre, where Stroud worked in the 1940s as usher and doorman and then assistant manager. Later he managed the Capitol and Roxy theaters before becoming a loan officer and grocery storeowner. After retirement he worked at the Decatur Public Library.

Hartselle High band director Randall Key said he got to know Stroud in 1990, when he asked his jazz group to play for his Labor Day Concert in the Park.

"Just the other day I found a letter of encouragement he sent me when I started my first teaching position," Key said. "Back in the 1990s when I played, often I would see him in Birmingham at various jazz concerts, promoting his concert series here.

"In my eyes, he was the epitome of class and a dear friend," Key said. "Paul had a sincere passion for jazz music and was a strong advocate for this music style that set a standard for other concert series in this area."

Lloyd Jones said his UNA Studio Jazz Band, a 34-member ensemble, will include music such as Duke Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train," Chuck Mangione's "Land of Make Believe," Nat King Cole's "Straighten Up and Fly Right" and Count Basie's "Blues at Hoss' Flat."

Through the years, he said, he was always hearing about Stroud's work, though he did not know him.

"Many fine musicians cut their teeth in his bands through the years. His groups were always known for their positive atmosphere, as well as their quality music," Jones said.

The band's vocalist is Colene Burns, the reigning Miss UNA and head majorette with the Pride of Dixie Marching Band.

Area musicians in the UNA group include Mark Andrews of Decatur on tuba, Jeff Kitchens of Trinity on trumpet and Athens saxophonists Shawn Terry and Brad Greene.

The Big Band Bash is coordinated by Clay Sloan, assistant band director at Austin High School. Each band will perform full sets of classic Big Band music from the 1930s and 1940s, as well as current jazz selections.

Lindy Ashwander, executive director of the Princess Theatre, said Stroud chose the Princess as the venue for the Big Band Bash "because of his longtime love of the historic theater."

If you go

What: 14th annual Big Band Bash

When: April 5, 7 p.m.

Where: Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts

Tickets: $10 to $16, with student, teacher, senior citizen and group rates available; contact the Princess box office, 340-1778, for reserved seats, or go online to www
.princesstheatre.org.

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