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UW-Eau Claire jazz program presents Holiday Spectacular Concert at Pablo Center

| Denise Olson (story); Glen Mabie (video)

The jazz studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire presents a special holiday show at Pablo Center at the Confluence Dec. 3, featuring holiday classics from alumni crooner Michael Andrew and his guest, Gunhild Carling.

The UW-Eau Claire Jazz I and Jazz II Holiday Spectacular Concert is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, in Pablo Center's RCU Theatre; tickets are available through the Pablo Center Box Office.

Andrew, a 1987 communication and theatre graduate, has spent decades in the entertainment industry as a jazz vocal performer, stage and screen actor and now music producer. Carling, called the “Queen of Swing,” is a Swedish jazz vocalist and instrumentalist most known for the jazz trombone.

Robert Baca, professor of music and director of jazz studies at UW-Eau Claire, says he is thrilled to bring this “dynamic duo” back together in Eau Claire to perform with his Grammy-nominated Jazz I and Jazz II ensembles.

“This pair performed together at Pablo Center in 2019 to multiple standing ovations throughout the evening,” Baca says. “Our goal is to bring Michael back every holiday season, with different special guests.”

“Michael Andrew has long been a beloved alumni guest with our jazz ensembles. As a fellow Blugold, he understands all that we are and are striving to be in UW-Eau Claire jazz. In terms of outcomes, his illustrious career speaks for itself,” Baca says.

A few highlights of Andrew’s stellar career include:  

  • Headline singer and bandleader for the world-famous Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
  • Bandleader and singer at Merv Griffin’s “Coconut Club” in Los Angeles.
  • Music producer for musicals, television shows and movies, including “Inglourious Basterds” and the recent “Being the Ricardos” from Amazon Prime.
  • Starring role in the Marvin Hamlisch Broadway production of “The Nutty Professor,” directed by Jerry Lewis.

“Each time Michael comes and shows our students he is a real person, current students come closer to believing they can enjoy a successful career in music,” Baca says.

Andrew says he welcomes all opportunities to return to campus, not only for sentimental reasons but because every time he returns, he is reminded of the excellence in music education at UW-Eau Claire by what he says are top-notch young performers.

“It’s always invigorating for me to come back to my alma mater,” Andrew says. “The students have an enthusiasm for the music that is inspiring and energizing. Mr. Baca invites guests like me to work with them to give them real-world experiences; they get a taste of what it’s like to play shows for entertainers who are performing on the road, and they handle it very well.

“I’ve worked with a lot of musicians over the years, and I’m never let down by the caliber of talent and professionalism of the UWEC students. The jazz ensembles are wonderful musicians who make me proud to be an alumnus. Bob Baca and the students put on a first-rate show and I always feel great performing with them.”