LAWRENCE – Get ready for a cool Yule when Kansas Public Radio presents a "Big Band Christmas," a holiday concert featuring the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and special guest vocalists Kathleen Holeman and Ron Gutierrez.
The sixth annual celebration of holiday tunes will be at 8 p.m. Dec. 13 at Liberty Hall in downtown Lawrence. Dancing to the swinging sounds of big band jazz is highly encouraged.
Ticket purchases work a little differently this year. Concertgoers can buy reserved seats on the floor, either as a table of 10 ($300), a table of four ($120) or individual reserved seats ($30). Seating in the balcony is general admission and will cost $20 a ticket. The dance floor will be open to all regardles of balcony or floor seating. A service charge may be added to orders. Tickets are available at the Liberty Hall box office or ticketmaster.com. Tickets also will be available the night of the concert. The Liberty Hall ticket office is cash only. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Singer Kathleen Holeman has been performing for more than 20 years as a solo act, sideman and leader of jazz groups of all sizes. She’s led the Ray Alburn Big Band since June 2007. She’s been a private music teacher for 20 years and on the faculty at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph since 2008.
Ron Gutierrez joins the fun again this year. His rich, soulful vocals and vast repertoire have led to performances alongside artists such as Michael McDonald, Wynonna Judd, Rita Moreno and B.B. King, as soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra and during national television appearances on such shows as “Showtime at the Apollo” and on numerous PBS concerts.
Formed in 2003, the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra brings many of the region’s greatest jazz musicians together to perform big band jazz in a concert setting. The KCJO is under the direction of Clint Ashlock, Kansas City native and trumpeter.
KPR also invites everyone to share the holiday spirit by bringing nonperishable food items to donate to Just Food. The organization encourages healthy food donations like whole grains, low-sodium vegetables and canned fruit in their own sugars. Just Food is a food bank in Douglas County supplying more than 40 partner agencies with food donated from food drives, as well as access to frozen meat, fresh produce and bread. Just Food also provides direct service to clients: It operates a food pantry, administers two federal food commodities programs, holds a monthly mobile food pantry and participates in cooking and nutrition classes for low-income residents.
KPR, a 15-time Kansas Association of Broadcasters Station of the Year, licensed to the University of Kansas, broadcasts on 91.5 FM in Lawrence, 89.7 FM in Emporia, 91.3 FM in Olsburg-Junction City, 89.9 FM in Atchison, 90.3 FM in Chanute, and 99.5 FM and 97.9 FM in Manhattan. KPR can be heard online at http://kpr.ku.edu. KPR also operates KPR2, a news-talk programming stream, which can be heard on an HD receiver or on KPR’s website.
Photo: Ron Gutierrez at "Big Band Christmas" in 2011.