Desoto County News

Northwest Jazz Band Concert set for April 6

Photo by Carly Fox

by Sarah Smith

The Northwest Mississippi Community College Jazz Ensemble spring concert will be held April 6 at the Heindl Center for the Performing Arts at 7 p.m. The concert is free and open to all those who wish to attend.

Headed by John Ungurait, assistant director of Bands, Applied Percussion instructor, and Jazz and Steel Bands director, they plan to perform a variety of different styles including Swing, Shuffle, Bossa Nova, Funk and Rock.

Ungurait said each year’s band brings its strengths and weaknesses, and he said he always aims to pick songs that best fit each band. But he’s still partial to some songs, such as “It Had to be You” by Frank Sinatra or any of the big band-era songs like “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be” by Duke Ellington.

Jazz is an enthusiastic music type that spawns from African-American culture allowing creative play of each composition based on four principles: rhythmicity, formidable relationship with music, improvisation and dynamic play.

With over 24 types of jazz, there is a little something for everyone from music you’d find in a club or elevator all the way to the heartbreaking ballads of broken dreams.

A tune that allows you to ascertain the pain expressed in some jazz music is Ellington’s “Why Am I So Black and Blue,” which showcases the story of ethnic strife and the structure of society during the mid-1930s, according to Ungurait.

“I specifically like charts that bring these times out for our students and teach them about the history and culture in our area,” said Ungurait. “This semester the band is playing ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,’ a tune that has Memphis roots. It was recorded by Booker T and the MG’s–the house band for many of the recordings from Stax or Volt Records of the 60s. You can hear them on many of the records of Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and even Aretha Franklin, and was the background for much of the soul music of that time period and what was known as the Memphis Sound.”

Ungurait said he hopes the community comes out to the show to see these students who have been hard at work preparing for this all semester.

If you’d like to learn more about Northwest Choirs or Fine Arts, please visit 

Photo by Carly Fox, NWCC