MURRAY, Ky. — The twelfth annual Murray State University Jamey Aebersold Jazz Festival will take place Friday, March 30, and features middle school, high school and university jazz groups from four states performing in clinics and concerts.
The clinics serve as a continuous concert throughout the day, beginning in Lovett Auditorium at 8:30 a.m., with groups performing a wide assortment of jazz music. The festival will then culminate with a headline performance by the Jamey Aebersold Quartet at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Hall. All concerts and clinics are free and open to the public.
“Our clinicians are some of the most respected musicians and teachers in this part of the country,” said Dr. Todd E. Hill, professor of music and director of jazz studies at Murray State who also serves as the event’s coordinator. “The participants will be getting the high-quality jazz education experience for which we are known for.”
Twelve outstanding middle and high school groups from the region will participate in the festival, which is designed for educational rather than competitive purposes. They will work with professional musicians and educators — including Ricky Burkhead from the University of Mississippi, Dr. Richard Ripani from Hume-Fogg Academic High School in Nashville, Dr. Todd French from Murray State and Dean Hughes, a freelance jazz percussionist — while completing clinics with Murray State students. There will also be a special improvisation clinic with jazz education legend Aebersold and his rhythm section at 3 p.m. in the Performing Arts Hall.
“We don’t have the bands competing with one another — there is so much of that already,” Hill said. “This is a musical event for sharing and learning.”
The clinics will take place on the stage of Lovett Auditorium with two groups set up simultaneously to allow for near-continuous music from the visiting groups. The clinic schedule is as follows:
— DeSoto Central Middle School (Southaven, Mississippi) directed by Tyler Hart at 8:30 a.m.
— Graves County High School (Mayfield) directed by Richard Burchett at 9 a.m.
— Trigg County Middle School (Cadiz) directed by Bethany Allen at 9:30 a.m.
— James Madison Middle School (Madisonville) directed by Alan Emerson at 10 a.m.
— Charleston High School (Charleston, Missouri) directed by Mike DiPasquale at 10:30 a.m.
— Daviess County High School Band III (Owensboro) directed by Karen Alward and Nate Clark at 11 a.m.
— Madisonville-North Hopkins High School “White” Band (Madisonville) directed by Alan Emerson at 11:30 a.m.
— Daviess County High School Band II (Owensboro) directed by Nate Clark at noon
— Madisonville-North Hopkins High School “Maroon” Band (Madisonville) directed by Alan Emerson at 12:30 p.m.
— Westview High School (Martin, Tennessee) directed by Chris Butner at 1 p.m.
— Daviess County High School Band I (Owensboro) directed by Nate Clark at 1:30 p.m.
— Hopkinsville High School (Hopkinsville) directed by Grant Jones at 2 p.m.
— Blue Murray State University Jazz Combo at 4:48 p.m.
— Charleston High School at 5 p.m.
— Daviess County High School III at 5:12 p.m.
— Westview High School at 5:24 p.m.
— DeSoto Central Middle School at 5:36 p.m.
— Daviess County High School II at 5:48 p.m.
— Graves County High School at 6 p.m.
— Hopkinsville High School at 6:12 p.m.
— Daviess County High School I at 6:24 p.m.
— Murray State University Jazz Band directed by Jon Nash at 6:36 p.m.
— Murray State University Jazz Orchestra directed by Hill at 6:48 p.m.
At 7:30 p.m., the Jamey Aebersold Quartet will perform in the Performing Arts Hall. The group consists of Aebersold, a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, on alto saxophone along with Luke Gillespie on piano, Tyrone Wheeler on bass and Jason Tiemann on drums.
“Mr. Aebersold has been coming here off and on since the early 1970s when retiring professor Ray Conklin was heading up the jazz program,” Hill said. “He is a great friend to the department of music, the jazz program and WKMS (the University’s NPR station). He has enriched the cultural life of the community at large in addition to everything he has done for jazz education internationally.”
A native of New Albany, Indiana, Aebersold attended college at Indiana University and graduated in 1962 with a master’s degree in saxophone. He was later awarded an honorary doctorate in music by his alma mater in 1992. In 1989, the International Association of Jazz Educators inducted him into their Hall of Fame, joining Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong as previous honorees. He has played with countless jazz legends through the years, including J.J. Johnson, James Moody and Bobby Shew. Aebersold developed a highly successful series of Play-A-Long books and CDs for the development of improvisational skills. His Summer Jazz Workshops have traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Germany, England, Scotland, Denmark and Canada. These camps employ many of the finest teachers in jazz and are open to any serious jazz students regardless of ability or age. Aebersold established an endowed jazz scholarship for Murray State students in 2008.