Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Azle band director to tour Europe with jazz band

Chapman is lead trombonist for Curt Wilson Alumni Band; public concert slated for AHS

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AZLE — Azle Junior High School’s own Kevin Chapman is excited to bring worldclass music to the city. The longtime Azle band director will be playing alongside the Curt Wilson Alumni Band during a free public performance at Azle High School June 19 at 6:30 p.m., the night before the band leaves for a European tour. The Curt Wilson Alumni Band consists of Texas Christian University alumni and former students of retired TCU Director of Jazz and Texas Jazz Educators Association Hall of Fame inductee Curt Wilson.

After Wilson’s retirement in 2011, former students from throughout his 35-year-career joined together to play for their former teacher. Not long after, TCU’s Director of Bands, Bobby Francis, proposed even bigger plans for the group. With the right connections, Wilson’s former students, including Chapman as lead trombone, were slated to perform at the Royal College of Music in London, the Old Spitalfields Market in East London and finally a special Fourth of July concert at The American Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. Members of the band came from all walks of life and all corners of the country, but were brought together by their gratitude for Wilson and their love of jazz.

“Curt Wilson was an integral part of my life,” Chapman said. “He has a huge impact on me both musically as well as growing into the man I have become. I know this holds true for the many other students he had through the years. When he selected me to be his lead trombonist for the band it was the greatest honor of my life. He could have selected any of his lead trombonists going back to the year 1976. I still have the email from him today in a scrapbook, I will never throw it away!”

The band reconvened again in 2015 and 2019 for subsequent European tours. Now in 2024, Wilson is in his 80s as he and his students prepare for their latest tour with three public concerts to be held later this month in Loutraki, Greece. In the past, Wilson has served as the band’s conductor. This year, Wilson will not go on tour with the band due to health concerns but will attend the special June 19 performance at AHS.

 “This band consists of former students of Curt Wilson’s from all walks of life, from teachers to dentists and doctors and even professional musicians,” Chapman said. “To be able to perform with such a world class band is a great honor and even greater honor to being them to our wonderful community here in Azle!”