Jazz Festival on an upbeat with double-header, bonus percussion

12:00:04 PM CDT - Wednesday, April 04, 2007

By Shannon Littlejohn

The 36th annual Wichita Jazz Festival hosted by WSU will run from Monday, April 16-Sunday, April 22, with the biggest events piling up for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Ensembles from percussion to Jazz Arts I and II will set the tone on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

The festival will feature the annual daylong Big Band and Combo performances Friday at Duerksen Fine Arts Center. It's a big day for high school and college musicians across the state. Then, on Saturday, clinics led by guest artists will be open to students and the public.

Saturday evening, there's a jazz double whammy with a Connoisseur Series double-header: alum Matt Wilson's Arts and Crafts Quartet followed by Stefon Harris and Blackout.

A renowned jazz vibraphonist, Harris became an audience favorite at WSU in fall 2004 when he performed with his group Blackout. The hybrid of acoustic music and progressive sounds showcases Harris on vibes, Casey Benjamin on alto saxophone, Marc Cary on keyboards, Darryl Hall on bass and Terreon Gully on drums.

The Arts and Crafts Quartet features Wilson on drums, Terell Stafford, trumpet, Dennis Irwin, bass, and Gary Versace, piano.

Wilson attended Wichita State where, according to his first-person essay at allaboutjazz.com, he met "one of the most influential mentors of my career, Dr. J.C .Combs."

Wilson will also be on hand for Sunday's bonus concert for Combs. He will be joined by about 15 other former Combs' students who've become successful performers in other parts of the world. All are coming to Wichita to honor their mentor's retirement this year.

For more information, call Tom Fowler, associate professor of music education at WSU and educational director of Wichita Jazz Festival Inc. at 978-6273.

All the jazz on the festival
Tickets for the Wichita Jazz Festival, with all its events in Miller Concert Hall and Duerksen Fine Arts Center, may be purchased through the Fine Arts Box Office, 978-3233.

7:30 p.m. Monday, April 16: WSU Percussion Ensemble with guest artists Andy Narell, Dave Samuels, Ed Soph and Mike Spiro. Cost: $6 with discounts available

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 18: WSU Jazz Arts II with the Mid Kansas Jazz Ensemble. Cost: $6 with discounts available

7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19: WSU Jazz Arts I. Cost: $6 with discounts available

8 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, April 20: Adjudicated college, high school jazz ensemble, combo performances in DFAC. Cost: $10

10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 21: Special interest clinics by festival artist/clinicians in DFAC. Cost: TBA

7 p.m. Saturday, April 21: Matt Wilson's Arts and Crafts Quartet followed by Stefon Harris and Blackout at 9 p.m. Cost: $16 with discounts available

7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 22: Guest percussion scholarship concert with 25 former students of J.C. Combs. Cost: $6 with discounts available

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