MSU’s Bebop Spartans Return to the WSCC Performing Arts Series
The West Shore Community College Performing Arts Series will feature Michigan State University’s Bebop Spartans, along with special guest, world-renowned trumpeter, Tanya Darby on Sat., Oct. 12, at 7:30pm, Ludington High School, Peterson Auditorium.
The next generation of great American jazz musicians is represented in this spectacular ensemble from MSU. Improvisation, bebop, swing, blues, and soul are just a few genres of this American art form that the Bebop Spartans will be performing.
Michigan State University has become the national powerhouse of jazz education. Under the direction of Professor Rodney Whitaker, MSU has recruited some of the world’s finest young jazz musicians. The Bebop Spartans, MSU’s jazz big band, is a culmination of Whitaker’s talent.
This year’s guest artist is a current and veteran member of such groups as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Roy Hargrove Big Band, the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, the Michel Camilo Big Band, and the Rufus Reid Large Ensemble, among others. She has performed and toured with artists such as Dianne Reeves, Clark Terry, Jon Faddis, Paquito D’Rivera, and Gladys Knight, and ensembles including the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, the Ron Carter Great Big Band, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and the Mingus Big Band.
She has also appeared on the television show BET on Jazz as part of the T.S. Monk Sextet and performed with Aretha Franklin as part of the “Arista Records’ 25th Year Anniversary Special” on NBC.
Darby’s accomplishments as a lead trumpet player keep her in demand. She has played lead in numerous bands including Paquito D’Rivera and the United Nations Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra, and Jimmy Heath’s Queens Jazz Orchestra, among many others.
An experienced educator, Darby is a former assistant professor of lead trumpet at the University of North Texas. She has also served as adjunct faculty at Temple University and the New School University of New York City.
Due to a generous $1,000,000 donation to the MSU School of Music Jazz Department from the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, the MSU Bebop Spartans are able to travel to three Michigan locations accompanied by world-renowned guest artists and the college is one of MSU’s three annual performance locations.
“I am very proud of the partnership the college has developed with the Michigan State University’s jazz department. Time and time again our audiences provide a warm reception for MSU’s artists which in turn, keep them coming back,” says Ted Malt, WSCC Director of Performing Arts and Professor of Music Studies.
“This evening is very special in that our audiences get to witness a true musical spectacle consisting of 19 of the best young jazz musicians in the country, an incredible guest artist, and the entire MSU Jazz faculty,” Malt adds.
An afterglow jam session will be held at the Jamesport Brewing Company, 410 South James Street in Ludington, starting at approximately 10 p.m. There is no cover charge for this event, however early seating or reservations are highly recommended.
Tickets for this event can be purchased online at or by calling the WSCC Box Office at 231-843-5507, which is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.