Arts & Culture

UK Jazz Ensemble presents 15th annual 'Big Band Blast' March 30

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 21, 2024) — The University of Kentucky Jazz Ensemble presents the 15th annual Big Band Blast, joined by Bluegrass Area Jazz Ambassadors and Jazz All-Stars of Central Kentucky at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at the Singletary Center for the Arts Recital Hall.  

Now in its 15th year, Big Band Blast will feature performances with guest artist Steve Wiest, a multiple Grammy-nominated trombonist, composer, author and cartoonist. The former soloist and writer for Maynard Ferguson, Wiest performed on the road with Doc Severinsen, the Old Tonight Show Orchestra and many other artists. Wiest has numerous recordings as a leader, the most recent of which is the second album (BLUE) from the critically acclaimed all-star horn band Vinyl Hampdin. Along with being the trombonist with the group, Wiest composed and arranged all the tracks for their debut RED, as well as their new release, BLUE. 

In the world of jazz education, Wiest was formerly the director of the One O’Clock Lab Band at The University of North Texas where the band under his direction was nominated for two Grammy awards. Following UNT, Wiest was co-chair of Jazz Studies at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. Wiest now teaches jazz trombone at Elmhurst University and is an artist for Edwards Instruments playing the custom “Excalibur” version of the T302 and the Griego-Steve Wiest Mouthpiece exclusively. 

A very active group on the road, the UK Jazz Ensemble (UKJE), which performs under the direction of Miles Osland, has toured the Midwest and South with performances in Chicago; Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus, Ohio; Louisville; Notre Dame, Indiana; Tennessee; and Georgia. The ensemble has given invitational performances at the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference and Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic. In July 2011, UKJE and the Osland/Dailey Jazztet toured France, Switzerland and the Netherlands, performing at the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals. The ensemble is also busy in the recording studio. Five recordings from UK Jazz Studies have been recommended for Grammy nominations and received four-star reviews from DOWNBEAT magazine. The Jazz Ensemble has also received the prestigious DeeBee award in the category of Best Jazz Instrumental Studio Orchestra from DOWNBEAT magazine.  

The Bluegrass Area Jazz Ambassadors (BAJA) are a popular performing ensemble affiliated with the Bluegrass Area Jazz Association, a nonprofit organization committed to the promotion of jazz education and the performance of jazz in the Bluegrass area. The group comprises musicians from the community, both professional and amateur, and students from UK Jazz Studies. David Hummel serves as musical director for BAJA, joining Osland as artistic director. The group regularly performs in many places including UK's Singletary Center, Ecton Park and other outdoor festivals, as well as with local middle and high school bands.  

Jazz All-Stars of Central Kentucky (JACK) is an ensemble of 15-20 of the state's best high school jazz musicians directed by Osland and Weist. Students are selected through applications and recorded auditions by UK Jazz Studies and are given the opportunity to meet with members of UK's music faculty, attend master classes, hear UK faculty/student ensembles and perform with other outstanding musicians from Kentucky and surrounding states.  

Tickets for the 15th annual Big Band Blast are $14 for adults and $7 for students with a valid school ID. Processing fees will be added to the transaction upon purchase. Free advance tickets are available for UK students at the Singletary Center ticket office through Friday business hours. Regular priced tickets may be purchased through the Singletary Center ticket office by visiting, calling 859-257-4929 or in person at the venue. 

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.