Jorgeson tribute set for Smoot Theatre

Kent Jorgeson’s life will be celebrated with music on June 13 at the Smoot Theatre in Parkersburg.

As an acclaimed musician and music educator, Jorgeson inspired generations of music students and entertained countless music fans throughout West Virginia and Ohio.

Jorgeson of Parkersburg passed away Dec. 20, 2019, at the age of 78.

His friends and former students will provide a June program that promises to fill the Smoot, where Jorgeson volunteered many hours of his time, with outstanding jazz and legitimate, or legit (classical) music.

Jorgeson is being remembered as someone who strove for excellence in playing the trombone and wanted others to do the same.

A trombone quartet comprised of Mike Dotson, Chris Dearth, Eric Staats and another yet undetermined musician will perform at the celebration of Jorgeson’s life. Jorgeson had performed with this trombone quartet called Trombonanza.

Dotson expects another larger ensemble of trombonists, at least 12 musicians, also will perform at the Smoot.

Jorgeson loved playing the trombone and performed in several musical groups.

His favorite song was “Adagio” by French composer Charles-Camille Saint-Saens.

A brass quintet (actually up to 10 musicians for this celebration), playing the tuba, trumpets, French horn and trombone, is scheduled to perform at the Smoot event.

Also performing will be the Smoot House Band, an 18-member big band directed by Jorgeson’s wife, Felice. Former Smoot House Band member Duane Flesher, now the pianist for singer Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., will reunite with his fellow musicians at the June 13 program.

Kent was a member of the Smoot House Band. He was Parkersburg High School Band director for several years and gave private trombone lessons.

One of Kent’s favorite songs with the Smoot House Band was “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” said Dotson, manager of C.A. House Music in Parkersburg.

“It will be a nice event full of good music,” said Felice, Smoot Theatre director and former Wood County Schools band director.

The time for the celebration of life has not been finalized.

Dotson has fond memories of learning to play the trombone from teacher Kent while a Wood County Schools student and later playing in bands with him. Dotson is a former school band director in Kanawha County.

At one time, largely through Kent’s efforts, Parkersburg was known in music circles as “trombone city,” Dotson said. There were many good trombone players in town, high school students in Parkersburg were often named to all-state bands as trombone players, and trombone students from Parkersburg attended music programs at West Virginia University, Marshall University and Ohio University, he said.

Kent was a “master motivator” as a music teacher, Dotson said, tailoring his trombone instruction to fit the student’s ability and personality. While attending the music program at WVU in the 1970s, Dotson would take trombone lessons from Kent in the summer.

“He knew how to get the best out of us (trombone players). We respected him (Kent) as a teacher, musician and friend,” Dotson said.

Dearth played trombone in the PHS Big Red Band from 1984-87, when Kent was the band director. Dearth earned all-state high school band honors and was a member of the McDonald’s All-American High School Band.

“Kent taught us professionalism … to be on time… diligence,” and how to become a better musician, Dearth said. Dearth is principal trombone for the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, performs with the Ohio Valley Symphony of Gallipolis, Ohio, and is an adjunct instructor at Marietta College.

Kent was a “fine, fine” trombone player who could have auditioned for symphonies and military bands, Dotson said. Kent enjoyed trombone practice, Dotson said.

Dotson believes that Kent’s “love of teaching kids to succeed” and sharing his knowledge kept him from pursuing a full-time music career on the road.

Harry Rich, 80, professor emeritus at Glenville State College, plans to play the trumpet in the brass quintet during the June 13 celebration.

Rich played in several groups with Kent: Lyric Brass, Smoot House Band, Travelin’ Brass and Mountain State Brass Band of Charleston.

It was a marvelous experience playing in the Smoot House Band at Kent’s request, said Rich, who lives in Glenville. “It made me a better section player,” he said.

Rich called the Jorgesons an extraordinary couple, spectacular teachers and influential in the arts.

“I feel privileged to know them,” Rich said.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com