Ed Norton Big Band

The Ed Norton Big Band performs live.

The Downtown Dance Collective is opening its space on West Main Street for jazz performances.

The nonprofit, which has a spacious hard-floor studio, is partnering with the University of Montana Jazz Program to provide a venue for its visiting guest artists and student musicians.

The DDC will also be the new home for the monthly performances by the Ed Norton Big Band, which used to play at the Missoula Winery.

The combination of swing music and a dance floor seemed like a natural fit to bring together music fans and the local dance community, according to DDC owner/founder Heather Adams.

Adams said over the next few months, the DDC will make more changes, such as the addition of a stage and curtain to create a "black box" feel. She'd like to offer "a home for some of these independent artists that want a smaller venue" to perform or experiment.

Rob Tapper, the director of UM's jazz program, has in the past hosted events on campus, at the winery and at the Break Espresso. While Missoula has plenty of jazz groups, there "isn't really a place in town anymore that's known for jazz," he said.

He hopes that the downtown location will be a draw for concert-goers, including students from campus.

On Oct. 12, they're hosting Oakland bass player Josh Tower, who will play with student and local musicians.

On Dec. 8 for the annual Holiday Swing concert, they're bringing in trumpeter Todd Kelly, a Missoula native who teaches at Bradley University in Illinois, with multiple concerts in a single day.

They're planning a January concert as well. Ticket information about the fall concerts is pending.

David Horgan, a member of the Norton Big Band, said the DDC is "a beautiful place with a fantastic dance floor." That last part is key, he said, since often big bands play in seated concert settings, and they'd rather have a floor.

The band will debut this Sunday, Sept. 9, with a concert from 6-8 p.m. Admission is $10 general and $7 for students.

Adams said she and guitarist John Floridis had a concert series about six years ago, and saw a need for another venue around town for local musicians and different styles of touring bands.

She also would like to expand the studio's artist-in-residence program. One of its success stories is Bare Bait Dance, a local contemporary modern dance company that's starting its eighth season in September.

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