Jazz at the Opera House: A Salute to Bryce Luty coming up Saturday night

By McPherson Opera House
October 23, 2014

A very special fundraising event will take place at the McPherson Opera House on Saturday, October 25, at 7:30 p.m.

Bryce Luty and six musicians he influenced will take the stage for an evening of jazz and remembrances.

The set list includes: “Stardust”, “Four”, “Just Friends”, “Just One of Those Things”, “Cantaloupe Island”, “Teach Me Tonight”, “Watermelon Man”, “Wave”, “Rosetta”, “Stella by Starlight”, “Bags Groove”, and, as an encore, “C Jam Blues in Bb”.

Legendary trumpeter-educator Bryce Luty taught at McPherson High School for 13 years and then headed up the innovative, ground-breaking Jazz Studies Program at Hutchinson Community College until his retirement in 1998.

His has been a life filled with many extraordinary experiences, but what Bryce remembers most fondly are the students whose lives he touched, many of whom went on to successful musical careers.

The musicians joining Bryce on stage are:

Mark Casebeer – trumpet. Bryce had Mark switch from baritone to trumpet when he

was a freshman in the Mac High Band, and he’s been playing trumpet ever since.

“Everything I learned musically came from Bryce.”

Mark’s been playing with King Midas for 25 years.

Gary Casebeer – drums. Gary eventually settled on drums as his main instrument.

“In 1963, my senior year, Bryce took over the instrumental music program at MHS and took it to a whole new level. He was more than a teacher and became a friend. I’m thrilled to be a part of this tribute.”

Denny Brunk – trombone. Denny started playing the trombone at age 10 and had Bryce as band director all through high school. He moved to L.A. in 1976 and enjoyed a successful and busy career as a free-lance musician.

Bill Bohnenblust – keyboards. Bill’s introduction to music began as a member of Bryce Luty’s 5th grade beginning band. His college degrees focused on jazz piano.

In 1980, he filled in for Bryce as the Jazz Studies instructor at Hutchinson Community College. Bill taught for 30 years and now plays with a variety of bands in Northern Colorado.

Jim Keefer – bass. Jim played in Bryce’s Mac High stage band in 1965, ’66 and ’67.

Bryce also used him numerous times when he needed a bass for his union band. For the past twenty-plus years, Jim has worked as a freelance musician in south-central Kansas, playing both acoustic upright and electric bass.

Bill Harshbarger – clarinet, saxophone. Bill has no connection to Bryce other than he is also one heck of a musician.

He’s taught at the university level and has played with such greats as Clark Terry, Bobby McFerrin, and the Tommy Dorsey band. In 2005, Bill was named “Arts Educator of the Year” by the Wichita Arts Council.

“This is going to be one fun show,” John Holecek, Opera House Executive Director, said. “The chemistry between Bryce and his former students ought to make for a very interesting evening. Jazz is America’s gift to the world, and this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you won’t want to miss.”

Tickets can be purchased online atwww.mcphersonoperahouse.org, by calling (620) 241-1952, or by visiting the box office.

In addition to ticket sales, there is another opportunity to support the Opera House for this fundraising event. For $100, patrons can sponsor one of the musicians.

Sponsors receive two free tickets to the show and a mention in the program. Multiple sponsorships at $100 each are welcomed.