Recently, University of Wyoming jazz studies instructor Ben Markley took one of his original tunes, “’Mon Back,” from a previous recording from his latest album, “Slow Play,” that was intended for his quartet. He adapted “’Mon Back” and arranged the tune for big-band instrumentation featuring 16 different musicians from across the nation.

That inspiration led the Ben Markley Big Band to play different instruments on Markley’s original tune. The compilation was then turned into a YouTube video, showcasing all 16 musicians in unison playing the catchy piece. Their performance can be found on YouTube here.

His efforts helped bring back much-needed camaraderie with his fellow musicians but, more important for Markley, provided a way to help artists in need during the pandemic.

During this time of uncertainty around the world, Markley is joining others who want to help.

“We all know it's true that music and all art sustain, fulfill and inspire us during good times and bad,” he says. “It is important that we remember to support artists who are alive and creating this work - especially in times of need. Since I have lived in a lot of places, I wanted to help the place I call home now as well as the entire nation.”

He has selected two organizations to help artists at www.artistrelief.org, for national musicians, and for the Wyoming Arts Alliance at www.wyomingarts.org/donate-to-the-individual-artist-covid-19-support-grant/.

Participants can apply for grants with money raised through individual pledges. Markley is donating 100 percent of the proceeds from his digital album sales from his personal website at www.benmarkleymusic.com.

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