The concert will kick off with the PSU Jazz Ensemble, directed by Professor Todd Hastings, before the headliner takes the stage.
Matt Catingub is considered one of the pioneers of the modern Big Band. The son of the great jazz vocalist and “Polynesia’s First Lady of Song,” Mavis Rivers, he is a proud Pacific Islander. In his early years, he performed with her around the world, including a 1983 performance for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
At age 17, he performed and presented his original big band compositions at the Monterey Jazz Festival, with that success catapulting him to a tour of Japan playing with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Thad Jones, and Ruth Brown.
Right out of high school, Catingub joined the big bands of Louie Bellson, who performed at Pitt State in the mid-1980s.
He was only 21 when he formed his first big band in Los Angeles and released his first recording, “My Mommy and Me,” which is recognized as one of the great break-out jazz recordings. It featured many of his hits that still resonate today, including “Blues and the Abscessed Tooth” and “Bopopularity,” and featured his mother.
He then released “Hi Tech Big Band,” one of the most innovative recordings of the genre, on which he performed all of the instruments, electronically recreating the sound of a big band while also introducing more big band classics like “The Umpire Strikes Back” and “Indian Riffs.”
His credits also include touring the world with the legendary Rosemary Clooney, and creating the music for the film “Goodnight and Good Luck,” which won a Grammy and allowed him the chance to work with jazz great Diane Reeves and writer-director George Clooney.
He has conducted, created, and performed with symphonic pop orchestras, including the Hawaii & Honolulu Symphony Pops, the Glendale Pops in L.A., and the Macon Pops near Atlanta, Georgia. With these entities he has conducted, performed, and orchestrated for artists like Al Jarreau, Diana Krall, Michael McDonald, and Kenny Loggins.
Last year marked the rebirth of the Matt Catingub Big Band, and the release “From Samoa to Sinatra,” celebrating the music of Frank Sinatra and Catingub’s mother, the first female artist Sinatra signed to his Reprise Records label in 1961.
Performing brand new arrangements and revisiting many of his hit originals, his band presents an exciting mix of old and new, including using technology to perform with “mom from the past” using tracks recorded while his mother was pregnant with him!
The concert will feature his longtime superstar drummer Steve Moretti and vocalist Michelle Amato.
Tickets for the evening concert are $16 for adults and $10 for children, seniors, and military. Pitt State students are admitted free, and discounted tickets for PSU faculty and staff are available with valid Pitt State ID.
They may be purchased or picked up at the PSU Ticket Office in 137 Garfield Weede Building. They also may be purchased at 620-235-4796 or at pittstate.edu/tickets.
Learn more about the PSU Music Department at pittstate.edu/music
The festival itself, meanwhile, has reached capacity, with more than 70 high school and middle school bands on tap to come to Pittsburg to perform and be judged.
Beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing throughout the day, student bands will take turns playing for a group of judges who are experienced educators and musicians.
Those performances will take place at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, 1711 S. Homer, and at Memorial Auditorium, 503 N. Pine. They are open to the public at no charge.
The festival was started in 1974 by Professor of Music Russell Jones with just 14 bands. In 1978, he passed the baton to Professor Robert Kehle, who continued to grow it until his retirement in 2023. It’s now coordinated by a committee of music faculty with Kehle as a consultant.
“I’ve had the privilege of being part of the festival for 27 years and it’s a landmark cultural event for our area, the university, and the state of Kansas,” Hastings said. “Bob Kehle has done a wonderful job of turning the festival into a must-see event, inspiring countless students, educators, and professional musicians. It’s an incredibly exciting event that the students and the community look forward to each year.”