Carey Smith and Friends
special to The Star
May 18, 2003
The 2003 version of Carey Smith and Friends finds Smith on piano and as composer. He is finishing his 23rd year at Meridian Community College as director of bands and music instructor.
Smith has worked and performed with countless name performers and clinicians in the jazz idiom during his career.
One of the most important highlights was having his MCC jazz band perform a concert in March 1991 at Carnegie Hall in conjunction with the Count Basie Orchestra and the 100th anniversary of the facility's opening.
Smith will soon have a compact disc released of his original music with the Meridian Symphony Orchestra from a concert in February 2003.
Scott Kratzer has played drums for the group since the mid-1980s. Kratzer is originally from Demopolis, Ala., and is currently band director at Northwest Junior High and assistant band director at Meridian High School.
Kratzer also was on the 1991 band that performed at Carnegie Hall with Smith. Kratzer has been featured soloist with both the Albany, Ga., symphony and the Meridian Symphony Orchestra, playing "Suite for Jazz Sextet and Orchestra" a composition by Smith.
Ron Widener, on trumpet, has also been with the group since the early 1990s.
Widener stays busy freelancing and teaching trumpet students.
He is an active alumnus of the University of Alabama and serves on the "Cavaliers" Big Band Board as President.
Hank Lambert, on trombone, has been involved with jazz in Meridian since the early 1980s. Originally from New Jersey, he moved to Meridian in 1979. He studied trombone at the University of Southern Mississippi and resides in Columbus, playing on the weekend with a variety of groups, including Capital City Stage Band in Jackson.
Lambert also appeared with the Albany and Meridian symphonies performing Smith's work, "Suite for Jazz Sextet and Orchestra."
Will Roland, guitarist, bassist, and composer is originally from Southern California. While attending Cal State University, Bakersfield, he joined the band of world-renowned, avant-garde composer Doug Davis.
Recently, Roland received national attention with the preliminary release of his latest project "At the Beach." Roland currently lives in Meridian and is employed by Peavey Electronics.
Deborah Ball-Lau, vocalist, is no stranger to the stages of Meridian.
Originally from Pascagoula, Ball-Lau spent much of her teenage and adult years in Meridian performing on the stages of the Temple Theater, junior college, and Meridian Little Theatre.
On the stage of MLT, Ball-Lau at the age of 17 performed the role of Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady." Other musicals with leading roles have included "Hello Dolly," "Mame" and "Anything Goes."
She has also been active in Alabama at the SEAC Community Players in Dothan and the Mobile Theater Guild. Deborah was successful in Charlotte, N.C., performing summer stock, and also with professional theater groups such as "Innovative Theatre" and "Spirit Square."
Most recently Ball-Lau was seen on the stage at Meridian Community College with the female lead in "I Do, I Do." Ball-Lau spends most of her time enjoying her six-year old daughter Rosey who is a student at Lamar Elementary.
The program will be selected from the following: