Archive for Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Evening of Jazz features music, dance lessons

March 19, 2003

Those who dance can -- and those who don't dance don't have to.

But just before the March 29 Tonganoxie junior high and high school "Evening of Jazz" concert begins, Charles VanMiddlesworth, Tonganoxie's band director, will give dancing lessons to anyone who wants them.

Following the lessons, which VanMiddlesworth describes as "swing dancing, based on the side step and rock step," the music begins. Songs by Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck and Nat Adderly make up part of the night's roster. Musicians include the Warrior Jazz Ensemble, which is the TJHS jazz band; the Chieftain Jazz Combo, which is the THS jazz band; and Mr. Van's Jazz Combo, composed of VanMiddlesworth and friends.

The evening also includes another performer -- KU professor Vince Gnojek, who teaches saxophone.

Along with the night of jazz, Gnojek will also attend VanMiddlesworth's classes next week to work with band students.

"This will be his first visit to the school," VanMiddlesworth said. "It's something I've been wanting to do for about five years now."

Gnojek said he's looking forward to working with VanMiddlesworth's students.

"I heard them play at the KU jazz festival a couple of weeks ago," said Gnojek in a telephone interview last week. "I picked up on some things I wanted to talk to them about, so it should be a lot of fun."

Having known VanMiddlesworth for about 10 years, and taught him in college, Gnojek said he's not surprised at VanMiddlesworth's success with students in Tonganoxie.

"I suppose if there was one word I could use to describe Charles, it would be 'unquenchable,'" Gnojek said. "He has unquenchable enthusiasm. I don't think I've ever seen Charles really down and if he does get down, he's up again the next day and his students see his enthusiasm and that's contagious to them and to the community."

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