WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – UNCW associate professor Jerald Shynett used his time at home during the pandemic to create new works that will be performed for the first time during a weekend concert.
Shynett will direct the concert, which will be performed by Hwy 17 Big Band at 2 p.m. Sun., June 27 at Kenan Auditorium.
The 16-piece band is made up of Shynett’s friends and former students.
“I was cooped up in the house in the great pandemic and had really nothing to do,” he said. “There were no performances and my kids were driving me crazy so I just started writing a bunch of music. I never thought it would really be performed. It’s just something to keep my mind occupied.”
Shynett said he finds working on music to be soul cleansing.
“I can just take out some of my angst on it and it’s a living breathing thing and that’s how I treated it,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for so long. It’s just a part of me.”
A grant from the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County, along with contributions from the UNCW Department of Music and Cape Fear Jazz Society helped to make the concert possible.
Shynett has spent 25 years teaching, performing, directing, arranging and composing jazz music. He feels a responsibility to preserve the genre.
“We all sort of feed at this tributary that runs and it’s probably like most things, once you accomplish your feats and receive some accolades, it’s important to give back so there are future generations because it’s not popular music by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve never diluted myself that I was going to get famous and rich from doing it. It’s just something I love to do and it’s brought me a lot of joy and they have been students who you know I feel the same way and you feel excited to pass these lessons onto them and hopefully bring joy to their life as well.”
He fell in love with jazz because his father listened to jazz music when Shynett was growing up.
“It appeals to me,” he said. “It’s a certain aesthetic that just appeals to my ear.”
In addition to performing with many jazz greats, Shynett also wrote a piece for the Warner Bros. television series One Tree Hill, which was filmed in Wilmington.
“It was exciting,” he said. “You got to go to Screen Gems and meet with the big wigs. The best part about it was I got to have some of the UNCW music students appear in that episode.”
Shynett also played with the Grammy-nominated contemporary big band Jazz Surge.
Sunday’s concert is open to the public and free for UNCW students.
Ticket information is available here.
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