Count Basie Orchestra to perform at WCU March 23

The world-famous Count Basie Orchestra will perform at Western Carolina University’s Fine and Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. as part of a weekend of activities in conjunction with the annual WCU Jazz Festival.

FAPAC_Count_Basie07The Count Basie Orchestra was founded and initially directed by Count Basie, a legendary pioneer in the swing era of jazz and a representative of “big band” style. Basie’s music is instantly recognizable to many by the distinct, trademark jumping beat.

Today the orchestra is directed by Bill Hughes, a trombonist who joined the orchestra in 1953, and features 18 performers, many of whom were originally selected by Basie himself. The ensemble has won 17 Grammy Awards, including best large jazz ensemble album in 1997 and 1999, and has topped every respected jazz poll in the world at least once.

“This is a unique opportunity that you shouldn’t let pass you by, no matter how old or how young you are. It’s not every day that you get to see and hear an American institution,” said Paul Lormand, director of the Fine and Performing Arts Center.

Tickets are on sale now at $30 for adults ages 18 and older, $25 for couples ages 18 and older, $20 for 2006-2007 season subscribers, $20 for groups of 20 or more, $15 for current or retired WCU faculty and staff, and $5 for students. Reservations are highly recommended.

For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Fine and Performing Arts Center box office at (828) 227-2479 or visit

Also scheduled during the weekend are other Jazz Festival performances, the opening of an exhibition of photographs of famous rock ‘n’ roll musicians, and the creation of a new iron sculpture.