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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Taking your fling for a swing


    Courtesy of Tucson Jazz Institute

    Prepare to pull a Swayze, as the Tucson Jazz Institute will be hosting its second annual Valentine’s Day Big Band Swing Dinner Dance on Friday at the Viscount Suite Hotel. 

    “The Dance is the annual fundraiser for the TJI Parent Group,” said Andrea Bruno, one of the organizers for the Swing Dinner Dance. “The parent group supports the students of TJI by covering extra incidental costs on trips, performances or practices.” 

    The event showcases student musicians in the Tucson Jazz Institute who are part of the six “Big Bands”: Chick Webb, Kenton, Woody Henderson, Buddy Rich, Basie and Ellington.

    “Approximately 75 students will perform in front of a crowd of 100-125 adoring fans of all ages,” Bruno said. “Attendees will enjoy hours of all the old Big Band favorites with plenty of dance floor to swing!” 

    The Valentine’s Day Big Band Swing Dinner Dance offers a variety of activities to make the night one to remember, including dinner, dessert, dance lessons and of course, live music.

    “The doors open at 6 p.m. with the Italian Buffet and Dessert beginning at 6:30 p.m., as well as the music,” Bruno said. “There will be swing dance lessons and demonstrations, the Lajkonik Lindy Hoppers, a photo booth and open dancing until 9:30 p.m.”

    In addition, there will be a silent auction taking place at the dance.

    “We will have some amazing silent auction items like gift baskets, wine baskets, $100 restaurant gift cards, a round of golf for four at SaddleBrooke, just to name a few,” Bruno said. “We will also have a wonderful wine table raffle with many featured wines from Pianetta Winery in Northern California.”

    The Swing Dinner Dance is an exciting opportunity for many young musicians to gain experience in performing, while working to fund their programs. Nick Bruno, one of the musicians in the Ellington Big Band at the Tucson Jazz Institute, said he is excited about performing at the second annual Valentine’s Day Big Band Swing Dinner Dance.

    Bruno, a junior in high school, said he was inspired to start playing an instrument by his father, who plays the guitar. After dabbling with the guitar and drums, Bruno said he ultimately landed on the trumpet in the fifth grade, which he currently plays in the Ellington Big Band.

    “[Being in the Ellington Big Band] is a lot of pressure because you have to set a good example for the younger students who go there,” Bruno said. “It is a lot of pressure, but honestly, it is a huge honor to be directed by such a good band director and to play with the other members of your band.”

    Bruno participated in the first Swing Dinner Dance last February and said that although the atmosphere is very different from most of his other gigs because people are there to dance, the swing music and dancing create a happy vibe. He said his favorite part of the event was being on stage with his other band mates.

    “It is like one big happy family,” Bruno said. “I couldn’t imagine anything better than to play with those guys.” 

    After high school, Bruno said he plans on attending college for music education and becoming a trumpet professor.

    With all of the revenue going to support the student musicians at the Tucson Jazz Institute, the cost for an individual ticket is $40 and $75 for each couple.


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