“Jazz Up Spring” Celebrates the Music of Duke Ellington and Count Basie on March 15, 2024

“Jazz Up Spring” Celebrates the Music of Duke Ellington and Count Basie on March 15, 2024

Musicians play their instruments on a stage while being conducted.

February 28, 2024 – The Santa Fe Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo will celebrate the work of jazz trailblazers Duke Ellington and Count Basie in the annual “Jazz Up Spring” concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 15, 2024, in the Jackson N. Sasser Fine Arts Hall at the Northwest Campus of Santa Fe College (SF), 3000 NW 83 Street, Gainesville.

Tickets are $15 for adults; $9 for seniors, students, children and military service members; and free to SF students, faculty, and staff with college ID cards. Tickets are available from the Fine Arts Hall box office at 352-395-4181 or online from Showpass at

“In this concert, we’ll recognize two African American band leaders who were prominent during the Swing Era,” explained Associate Professor of Music and Band Director David L. Smith, who will conduct the student musicians. “Duke Ellington led his band in New York City while Count Basie’s band was based in Kansas City. Even though Basie’s band played a boogie-woogie style that was different from Ellington’s, the two bands shared musicians and Basie credits Ellington for influencing his band.”

The 15 students in the Jazz Ensemble and the eight students in the Jazz Combo will alternate music by the two composers throughout the concert. On the program are Ellington’s “Take the ‘A’ Train” and Neal Hefti’s “Li’l Darlin,” composed for the Count Basie Orchestra. A guest vocalist will perform on Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.” Smith, a trombonist, arranged one of the tunes that will be performed, Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood.”

“When I introduce my music appreciation students to jazz, I explain that this music has a place in American history because it brought people together during segregation,” Smith said. “The music appreciation students like jazz, but the students in the bands love it and want to learn more! They’re especially intrigued by jazz improvisation and that’s the reason some of them sign up to play.”

Smith has a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies (Performance) from the University of South Florida and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Jazz-Performance from the University of Colorado Boulder. He has performed with legendary jazz trombonist George Buster Cooper of the Duke Ellington Orchestra and other leading jazz artists in New York including Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Roberts, Jason Marsalis and Vincent Gardner.

“Jazz Up Spring” is organized and sponsored by the Santa Fe College Fine Arts and Entertainment Technology Department. For information about the concert and the SF bands, call Smith at 352-395-5313. For information about tickets, call the SF Box Office at 352-395-4181.