The History of SuperJazz in Birmingham
SuperJazz began the current concert series in Fall 1978, on campus at
UAB. As one of the first performing instrumental ensembles on campus, SuperJazz committed to performing four concerts each year, in return for access to rehearsal space and the use of Bell Auditorium for concerts. Growing out of a series of “rehearsal bands” that met in various locations, (including Ed Boutwell’s recording studio), the current organization was the brainchild of founders Everett Lawler, Neil McLean, Sonny Harris, Mallory Pierce and Charlie Ard. They determined to develop a band that could give professional players the opportunity to perform the classic big band literature, as well as provide a framework for Jazz improvisation. Since every night of the week is a potential “gig” opportunity, they decided to limit the concerts to Sunday afternoons at 3 PM.
When the Alys Stephens Center opened in 1996, SuperJazz moved the concert series to the new Jemison Concert Hall. It was necessary to charge for admission for the first time, and a modest $5 admission fee was instituted.
When the Stephens Center was no longer available to SuperJazz at the end of the 2002 season, a study of our mailing list dictated a location in the Homewood area. John Carroll Catholic High School generously offered rehearsal space and use of the 600-seat auditorium. We were able to maintain the modest $5 admission charge, which we shared with John Carroll. Our stay at John Carroll lasted five years.
When Samford University opened the new Brock Recital Hall adjacent to the Wright Fine
Arts Center, several members of the Samford instrumental music faculty encouraged the band to move the concerts to Samford. We made the move at the beginning of the 2007-2008 season. The intimate space in Brock hall, coupled with the adjustable acoustics provided by a moveable wall system, has given SuperJazz an excellent venue for performance, as well as excellent rehearsal space.
In addition to four concerts each year, SuperJazz has performed several off-site concerts over the years, including the very first City Stages and several subsequent City Stages including the final one. SuperJazz has also performed at Livingston State University, (now the University of West Alabama), Talladega College, Old Town Montgomery and The University of Montevallo. In spite of these, the primary focus of SuperJazz is the series of four public concerts for the Birmingham Jazz Community each year.