- Mar 26, 2011 7:30 PM
R&D Big Band and Jazz Lab Band
Don Keranen (1942-2000) was one of the most talented musicians to ever be associated with the Copper Country. Born and raised in Baraga, Don received his academic music education at Northern Michigan University and graduate studies at the University of Oregon. He also accumulated an enormous breadth of experience, in all genres, as a composer/arranger, sax/flute performer, keyboardist, bassist and a marvelous vocalist. Though associated mostly with the jazz idiom, Don was adept at performance in all styles of music.
While a quiet individual, Don was a tremendous innovator at Michigan Tech. He:
- Developed the jazz studies program, which today includes 2 big bands, 3 combos and academic courses in Jazz History, Jazz Improvisation, and Jazz Arranging.
- Instituted and developed the MTU Wind Ensemble (known today as the Superior Winds)
- Originated the scramble band concept used by the Huskies Pep Band
- Put the Pep Band into the now legendary "Stripes" uniforms
- Took the JLB on numerous Caribbean performance tours
- Developed one of the first all-synthesizer jazz combs, HiTech, in the country
Don co-led on of the most influential pop/rock/jazz groups in the U.P, 4o North, from 1962 – 1987. In addition to his broad and amazing performance skills, Don was a first-rate teacher and mentor. The Jazz Studies program at Michigan Tech is one of the oldest in the Midwest (1967) and has a vibrant history of innovative curriculum, award-winning ensembles and vibrant performances.
Tonight you will hear the two large jazz ensembles, the Research and Development Big Band and the Jazz Lab Band performing an eclectic mix of classic and modern jazz, Latin jazz, blues, funk, rock and original arrangements.
We are proud to honor the legacy of Don Keranen's innovative and passionate dedication to jazz and contemporary music at Michigan Tech, and hope that you enjoy this evening's performance.
Think spring! Don liked warm weather!
Don Keranen Memorial Jazz Concert/Rozsa Center
Mining Gazette, March 24, 2011