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May 5, 2009

Vocal jazz pioneer retires

Denton Record Chronicle (TX):

After 31 years of nurturing jazz voices, University of North Texas voice professor Paris Rutherford is boxing up his sheet music and heading for a retirement that leaves room for music and teaching.

But before he breaks out the boxes, Rutherford will welcome about 80 alumni back to campus for a final concert at 8 p.m. today. Rutherford brought the UNT Jazz Singers up from a fledgling choral ensemble to become one of the best collegiate vocal jazz ensembles in the country since he took a teaching job at the college in 1978.

“When I arrived, there was a class in jingle singing. It was called the Commercial Singers,” Rutherford said. “But that wasn’t what I thought we ought to be doing. So we changed it to Vocal Jazz Singers.”

Rutherford is a respected arranger, and when he arrived at the college, the jazz arranging course was small. He made a decision that would later cement UNT’s reputation for training some of the most musical singers in the music business.

“I decided that arranging would be required for majors,” he said. “That meant the class grew. The students who are pursuing a degree have to write one big band chart for that class.”

Arranging isn’t something that every singer loves to do, but Rutherford hasn’t taught too many successful students who regret learning to do it.

“When a singer knows how to arrange music, a singer knows how to communicate with an instrumentalist. And the instrumentalists are part of the ensemble,” he said. “You can’t ever forget that if you’re a singer. The better communication you have between singers and instrumentalists, the better performance you’ll get.” Read more.

Posted by acapnews at May 5, 2009 12:03 AM

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