Seeley Swan Pathfinder -


By Andi Bourne

Enjoying the fruits of his labor


January 17, 2019

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

The Boyd A Combo performing Jan. 13 at Seeley-Swan High School. Pictured (L-R): Connor Racicot on piano, Reed Ellsworth on guitar, Finn Carroll on bass, Ross Strauser on tenor saxophone, Josh Hungate on trombone and Willie Blatz on drums.

SEELEY LAKE – From Duke Ellington and Miles Davis to original arrangements, University of Montana Jazz combos "Boyd A" and "Boyd B" dazzled the audience with their improvisation Sunday, Jan. 13 as part of the 2 Valleys Stage 2018-2019 concert series. The small groups are just a couple of examples of how much the jazz program at UM has grown since the combos' namesake Lance Boyd started it in 1970.

Boyd started as the UM Professor of Trombone & Director of Jazz Studies in 1968. He said when he started there was a jazz band that was a mix of community members and students.

"That was it until 1970. When the director of that band left, the chairman invited me in and asked if I would take over that program," said Boyd. "From January of 1970 that has been my tenure."

Boyd retired in 2012 and now lives with his wife and retired UM Professor of Cello Fern Glass Boyd in Seeley Lake.

"I must admit, after 43 years of working [on the program] like I did, I was pretty concerned about who would come in to take over. I couldn't be more pleased with Rob [Tapper, current Professor of Trombone & Director of Jazz Studies]."

Boyd said Tapper has taken the program in a different direction, focusing more on educational elements.

"This group is here in lieu of what would have probably been a big band because he wants to give the students an opportunity to perform on their own," said Boyd.

Currently the UM School of Music Jazz program has four big bands and six small combos.

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

Seeley Lake resident Lance Boyd started his tenure with the University of Montana Jazz Program in 1970. It has grown to include four big bands and six small groups under the current leadership of Rob Tapper since Boyd's retirement in 2012.

"The combo program gives the students more of a chance to improvise and offers more individual development," said Boyd. "Their musical skills have to come really quickly because they are out there playing solos. There is no place to hide."

Two of the combos are named after Lance Boyd.

"It is very nice," said Boyd. "I have remained a pretty ardent follower and fan. They very seldom perform when I'm not around. I'm not checking up on them, I'm just enjoying the fruits of my labor and watching what Rob is doing and how far he has brought the program along."

Becca Speranza, tenor saxophone player and student band manager for Boyd B, thanked Boyd for all his work building up the jazz program.

Tapper echoed her sentiments, "[Lance Boyd] was the jazz program at UM. It is always a pleasure to have him in the audience and just be a part of what he has left and continue on the tradition."

The next concert in the 2VS Concert Service is Men of Worth. While they were originally scheduled to perform Feb. 24, they will be performing Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. at the Seeley-Swan High School Auditorium.


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