MURRAY, Ky. — The 11th annual Murray State University-Jamey Aebersold Jazz Festival will take place on March 31 and April 1. Middle school, high school and university jazz groups from three states will be performing participant concerts beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 31 and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 1 in historic Lovett Auditorium, with the headlining Jamey Aebersold Quartet performing at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Hall on Friday evening. All concerts and clinics are free and the public is cordially invited.
The coordinator for the event which brings hundreds of young musicians to the campus is Dr. Todd E. Hill, director of jazz studies at Murray State. Student assistance comes from the members of the Murray State jazz ensembles.
“Mr. Aebersold has donated so much of his time and financial support to the jazz program at Murray State. He has been coming here off and on since the early 1970s when Professor Ray Conklin was heading up the jazz program. He is a great friend to the department of music, the jazz program, WKMS, and he has enriched the cultural life of the community at large in addition to everything he has done for jazz education internationally,” said Hill of Aebersold, who has endowed a jazz scholarship for Murray State University.
Fourteen middle and high school groups from around the region will be participating in the festival, which is designed for educational, rather than competitive purposes. The students’ days will include commentary and clinics by professional musicians and educators (Professor Ricky Burkhead, University of Mississippi; William Brian Hogg, Northern Kentucky University; Dr. Todd M. French, Murray State University, and Dean Hughes, freelance jazz percussionist), clinics with Murray State jazz students, and two special jazz improvisation clinics with jazz education legend Aebersold and his rhythm section (Friday at 1:30 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m. in the Performing Arts Hall). Anyone interested in hearing the clinics is invited to attend.
The KMEA All-First District Jazz Band will be rehearsing and performing during the weekend. Coordinator for the All-District Jazz Band is Dr. Derek Jones, Director of Bands at Calloway County High School, and will be under the direction of Richard Steffen, Professor of Music (Emeritus) at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn. The group performs at 3:15 Saturday afternoon, April 1 in Lovett Auditorium.
Using the vast expanse of Lovett Auditorium’s stage, two groups can be set up simultaneously, preventing delay between performances and allowing near-continuous music from all the visiting groups. The Friday participant concert will begin at 3 p.m. with the Murray State University Jazz Band (Dr. Todd E. Hill and graduate assistant Jonathan Nash, directors), and will continue with the following schedule:
3:15 – Trigg County Middle School Jazz Band (Brandon McKinley, director)
3:30 – Hendersonville (TN) “3:15” Jazz Band (Dr. Jeff Phillips, director)
3:45 – Graves County High School (Richard Burchett, director)
4:00 – Apollo High School Jazz Band (Andrew Clark, director)
4:15 – Hendersonville High School “4:15” Jazz Band (Dr. Jeff Phillips, director)
4:30 – Murray State University Jazz Orchestra (Dr. Todd E. Hill and graduate assistant Jonathan Nash, directors).
On Friday, March 31 at 7:30, the Jamey Aebersold Quartet, with National Endowment for the Arts “Jazz Master” Jamey Aebersold on alto sax, Luke Gillespie (Indiana University) on piano, Tyrone Wheeler on bass, and Jonathan Higgins on drums, will perform the headliner concert for the public in the Performing Arts Hall.
The Saturday participant concert schedule is as follows:
1:30 – Paris-Henry County (TN) Middle Schools Combined Jazz Band (Chris Watson and Lucy Presson, directors)
1:45 – Marshall County High School (Joel Roberts, director)
2:00 – Henry County (TN) High School (Chris Watson, director)
2:15 – Charleston (MO) High School (Mike DiPasquale, director)
2:30 – McCracken County High School “McBig Band” and “McVoices” (Kelley Ray, director)
3:00 – Murray State University Jazz Percussion Quintet (Dr. John Hill, director)
3:15 – KMEA All-District Jazz Band (Richard Steffen, director)
3:45 – Murray State University Jazz Orchestra (Dr. Todd E. Hill and graduate assistant Jonathan Nash, directors).
“Our clinicians are some of the most respected teachers in this part of the country. The participants will be getting the high quality jazz education experience for which we are known. We don’t have the bands competing with each other – there is so much of that already,” said Hill. “This is a musical event for sharing and learning. For Graves County High School, this is their eleventh consecutive appearance at the festival, and James Madison Middle School and Madisonville –North Hopkins High School, all directed by Alan Emerson, are coming to participate in the clinics, although they will not be able to stay for the afternoon performance.”