It was the best deal on campus.
For 25 cents you could dance to music by the Aces of Collegeland, stay up late and maybe meet the girl or guy of your dreams. A lot of courtships started at dances featuring the Aces, which began in the 1920s. And many of the people involved in those courtships return to UNT each year for lunch with the Floyd Graham Society, which honors its namesake with an annual jazz studies scholarship. Lindsay Keffer (’59, ’60 M.S.), society treasurer, introduced senior saxophonist Adam Robertson as this year’s recipient.
The Aces, formed by long-time music professor Floyd ’Fessor Graham, were the hottest group around, and the band’s alumni group at Homecoming 2009 rocked the Silver Eagle Suite with music from the Big Band Era of the 1940s and 1950s. Somewhere, Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington were smiling. So was Maynard Ferguson, the late jazz great whose music and papers were donated to the College of Music last year thanks to efforts by luncheon attendee Bill Collins III (’78 M.M.Ed.), whose father played with the Aces in the 1930s.
An ensemble of faculty and former Ferguson band members, led by Steve Wiest (’88 M.M.), now director of jazz studies at UNT, capped the luncheon with some favorite stories and tunes.
“It’s great being around people who were here when all this started,” Wiest told the group, referring to UNT’s internationally acclaimed jazz studies program, which was the first in the nation.
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