The Flying Horse Big Band, composed of students in UCF’s jazz studies program, reached a milestone this week – placing its third album on the top three national jazz charts.
“This trifecta is a first,” said Jeff Rupert, director of the program and band. “It’s not often that college jazz programs receive this kind of recognition. The band shares the charts with Chick Corea, Nicholas Payton, Diana Krall, Peter Erskine and other luminaries in jazz.”
Big Man on Campus, released earlier this year, reached No. 7 on the North American College and Community Radio chart, No. 9 on the Roots Music Report, and No. 36 on Jazz Week.
The album is the eighth released by Flying Horse Records, the music label operated by the university to give students an outlet to record and learn about the world of music. The 11 songs on the album were composed by Henry Mancini, Billy Strayhorn, Antonio Carlos Jobim and others, including the title track B.M.O.C. by Rupert.
The band’s success can be attributed to “keeping artistry at the forefront of the project,” Rupert said. With graduations constantly changing the chemistry of the band, it’s always “like recruiting for a football team. At the beginning of the year I get a feel for the talent in the band once auditions are concluded. That’s when I can program and write for the band. This allows us to accentuate strengths and create scenarios that challenge the students.”
He said some of the notable jazz-studies students on Big Man on Campus include saxophonist Saul Dautch, guitarist Ryan Waszmer and freshman trombonist Christian Herrera.
Rupert joined one of the songs on saxophone, and Jeff Moore, dean of the College of Arts & Humanities, also added percussion on a couple of the tracks.
The band’s new student lineup will begin rehearsing in late August and start off the school year with an on-campus performance at 8 p.m. Sept. 29 in Room 101 of the Nicholson School of Communication. They’ll follow that up with a performance at the Winter Park Autumn Art Festival at 1 p.m. Oct. 14.
“We are happy to be cultivating an environment of excellence and relevance for our students,” Rupert said. “Stay tuned for our next release, The Bat Swings!, due out this fall – the music of Batman!.”