Thursday, April 14, 2016

Rozsa Center to host 17th Annual Don Keranen Memorial Jazz Concert Apr. 15

Michigan Tech jazz ensembles at the Rozsa. (Photo © Defined Visuals and courtesy Michigan Tech University)

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech Jazz Studies Program Director Mike Irish and the Michigan Tech Jazz ensembles will present the 17th Annual Don Keranen Memorial Jazz Concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Apr. 15, at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. With a wide variety of jazz to suit almost every palette, the Keranen legacy is very much in evidence in both the Research and Development Big Band and in the Jazz Lab Band. Don was always at the cutting edge of incorporating new and interesting jazz arrangements in his concert programs.

The R and D Big Band will perform Little Sunflower with the addition of interesting sound effects and a woodwind quintet. The Jazz Lab Band will feature vocalists Kattie Riutta and Kevin Rocheleau singing Used To Rule The World, and Diggin’ On James Brown, respectively. 

Both tradition AND innovation were important to Don’s view of education. The Jazz Lab Band will perform a classic composition from the library of the Buddy Rich Big Band titled Groovin’ Hard, written by Don Menza. In a more contemporary style, the R and D Band will funk-out on the Tower of Power classic, Soul Vaccination.

The jazz groups have been very active this year. Besides campus concerts in the Rozsa, the R and D Big Band traveled to the Calumet Theater for a headline concert in March. The Jazz Lab Band performed a Midwest tour in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan in early January.  Both jazz combos, JazTec and Momentum have been actively gigging in the area, and along with the Jazz Lab Band will be competing in the 49th Annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival in Eau Claire, Wis., on Friday, April 22.

In 2003, Jay Keranen developed an endowed award program in his father's name. Two $500 amounts are awarded for 1) Outstanding Jazz Musician, and 2) The Most Improved Jazz Musician, respectively. This year's recipients will be announced during this Friday's concert. Michigan Tech is indebted to Don Keranen for his great contributions to music and jazz and to Jay and the Keranen family for their continuing generous support of jazz. There is something here for everyone! So, sit back and relax and enjoy the journey!

Tickets for the Don Keranen Memorial Jazz Concert are on sale now: $13 for adults, $5 for youth, and no charge for Michigan Tech students with the Experience Tech fee. Tickets are available by phone at (906) 487-2073, online at, in person at the Central Ticketing Office in the Student Development Complex, or at the Rozsa Box Office the evening of the performance. Please note the Rozsa Box Office only opens two hours prior to performances.

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