Little Big is theme for Southern Miss Jazz Lab Band’s Fall Concert


Photo courtesy of University of Southern Mississippi Jazz Band.

The University of Southern Mississippi Jazz Lab Band will present its Fall concert of its 2020-21 season in a live streaming event from Marsh Auditorium on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. 

The program, unlike previous years, will feature music for a Little Big Band, a reduced size ensemble. A traditional big band includes four trumpets, four trombones and five saxes along with a rhythm section of drums, bass, guitar and piano. The Little Big Band, meanwhile, only features seven to eight horns with a rhythm section. 

“This is actually something I have wanted to do for a long time, but always felt compelled to do traditional big bands in order to provide performance opportunities for as many students as possible during their studies at Southern Miss,” said Larry Panella, Director of Jazz Studies. “Now, because of COVID-19 rehearsal space restrictions, we’ve ventured into this new direction and the students are really enjoying the music and the more open setting it provides for soloists and ensemble performance.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic and its social distancing requirements made it so that a Little Big Band is a much more viable performing option. Though made famous in such landmark recordings as Miles Davis’ ‘Birth of the Cool’ and saxophonist Art Pepper’s ‘Art Pepper +11’, the Little Big Band previously was mostly viable as a cost saving measure while touring. 

Now, artists such as the late Maynard Fergusen, Michael Bublé, and Harry Connick Jr. have routinely used this smaller sized band for backing for vocal performances during COVID-19. This pandemic has resulted in a chance to explore new and old music in a format that straddles the genres of the Big Band and combo. 

The Jazz Lab Bands are conducted by Larry Panella, Director of Jazz Studies and Gabriel Scavassa Borin, Graduate Assistant to the Jazz Studies Program. Works by Marty Paich from the ‘Art Pepper +11’ album along with arrangements by Mike Tomaro and Rob McConnell will be performed.
While not open to a public audience, the concert will be streamed free of charge on the School of Music’s YouTube channel at