Count Basie Alumnus Featured at SWOSU Jazz Festival

Frank Wess

Frank Wess, who is an alumnus of the world famous Count Basie Orchestra, will be one of the featured soloists at the annual Southwestern Oklahoma State University Jazz Festival February 10 in Weatherford.

The 36thAnnual SWOSU Jazz Festival will feature Wess and an outstanding group of jazz musicians including Byron Stripling, trumpet and vocal; Kenny Drew, Jr., piano; Lynn Seaton, bass; and Dennis Mackrel, drums.

Wess began his music training in Sapulpa. He moved to Washington D.C. and graduated from Dunbar High School and attended Howard University Music Conservatory. He played in dance theater and club bands until 1941 and served in an army band as assistant bandleader-solo clarinet from 1941 to 1945. He led a 17-piece swing band that accompanied Josephine Baker in concerts for allied troops in Africa during World War II.

After World War II, he returned to Washington D.C. and attended the Modern School of Music where he received a bachelor of music degree in flute performance. He toured extensively around the world, at one time giving a command performance for Queen Elizabeth, with the Count Basie Orchestra from 1953 to 1964. At the present time he is a freelance musician and recording artist in New York City.

The SWOSU Jazz Festival concerts, which will feature the SWOSU Jazz Ensemble “A” directed by Dr. Terry Segress and the guest musicians, will be held at 1 and 8 p.m. on Friday, February 10, in the Fine Arts Center on the Weatherford campus. Tickets are $10 for general admission and are on sale at the SWOSU Music Office, Room 100 in the Fine Arts Building.

The SWOSU Jazz Festival is presented by the SWOSU Department of Music with the assistance of the Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. For additional information, contact the SWOSU Music Office at 580.774.3708 or email