It takes some classic music to keep a band going for almost 100 years.
The University of Montana jazz program's four big bands will tip their fedoras in honor of Count Basie's achievement on Friday with a special concert, "One Once More."
"All four big bands are going to be playing music that has been presented by the Basie Band over the last give-or-take 90 years the band has been in existence," said Rob Tapper, head of the UM jazz program and a trombone professor.
The line-up includes well-known tunes such as "April in Paris," "One O'Clock Jump" and others.
Tapper said Basie not only hired quality musicians like saxophone legend Lester Young, but he "also developed a whole lineage of great composers and arrangers for the band."
A short list includes Quincy Jones, Bill Holman, Neal Hefti and more.
The big bands have a range of skill levels, starting with a group of younger musicians and non-majors who rehearse once a week, to the top big band that comprises kids who are "all very serious about music," Tapper said, and play around town frequently.
Tapper, a longtime educator, said there's a limited pool of big bands with name recognition, such as Basie and Duke Ellington. The concerts have to focus on which of those artists are accessible both to the audience and to the players: Ellington, for instance, is revered for his challenging, intricate compositions.
Asked what stands out to him about Basie, he replied, "It always swung. It always grooved."
The band started out playing a lot of blues, he said, and if you find old video recordings you'll notice the band doesn't have sheet music. It was riff- and blues-based tunes for dancing, in which the parts were passed down from player and player.
In keeping with that spirit, the concert will feature a slideshow of old pictures of the Basie band, and during the band changeovers, they'll play video clips of the band in action.
It's intended to create a fun atmosphere, one that's good for families or those who want to introduce someone to the music.