Arts & Culture

Big Band Blast to feature saxophonist Jim Snidero with UK, state's best jazz talents

Jim Snidero

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 22, 2023) — The University of Kentucky Jazz Ensemble presents the 14th annual Big Band Blast, joined by Bluegrass Area Jazz Ambassadors, Jazz All-Stars of Central Kentucky, and special guest artist, Jim Snidero, on alto-saxophone, beginning 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 25, at the Singletary Center for the Arts Recital Hall. 

Now it in it’s 14th year, the Big Band Blast concert will feature several alumni performing with the current teenage musicians in the Jazz All-Stars of Central Kentucky. Many of these alumni are now students in the UK School of Music. 

Audiences can look forward to performances from special guest artist Jim Snidero, who will join all three groups on alto-saxophone. Over the past 35 years, Snidero has come to be known as one of the finest jazz musicians of his generation. As an alto saxophonist, composer, arranger, author and educator, he has been called both a “master musician” and “alto saxophone virtuoso” by Downbeat magazine, and placed in the 2017 Downbeat Critic’s Poll, demonstrating his continued impact on the international jazz scene. 

Snidero grew up in Camp Springs, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. Musically nurtured from a young age, both at home and in his school music program, he began to quickly show promise as a musician. As a teenager, Snidero studied with the great Phil Woods and was a member of the famed One O’Clock Lab Band at the world-renowned jazz program at the University of North Texas. Studies with another saxophone great — Dave Liebman — helped Snidero to reach the next level as a musician and, ultimately, helped him to make the decision to move to New York at the conclusion of his college years. He is an adjunct faculty member at The New School in New York and New Jersey City University, and he’s been a visiting professor at some of the finest music institutions in the world, including Indiana University and Princeton University. 

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, as well as 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 Snidero. 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 masterclasses, hear UK faculty/student ensembles, and perform with other outstanding musicians from Kentucky and surrounding states. 

Tickets for the 14th annual Big Band Blast are $10 for general admission and $4 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.