LAWRENCE - The University of Kansas School of Music presents the 40th Annual KU Jazz Festival concerts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4 in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union. This year’s featured guest artist is guitarist Anthony Wilson. Both concert events are open to the public.
The March 3 concert features Wilson with the award-winning KU Jazz Ensemble I and the KU Jazz Festival All-Star Band. KU Jazz Ensemble I is the flagship ensemble within the KU Jazz Studies Program. The group and individual musicians within it have won 23 DownBeat Student Music Awards, including winning the College Big Band graduate division in 2015, and recently performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. The KU Jazz Festival All-Star Band is comprised of KU School of Music faculty, guest clinicians at the KU Jazz Festival and professional jazz artists from throughout the United States.
The March 4 concert will present Wilson in a small group setting, including leading a KU/Kansas City-based version of the acclaimed Anthony Wilson Nonet. KU faculty members Matt Otto, T.J. Martley, Danny Embrey, Jeff Harshbarger and Brandon Draper and graduate teaching assistant Chuck MacKinnon will perform with the nonet, along with Kansas City musicians Brett Jackson, Marcus Lewis and Zak Pischnotte. Opening the concert will be the Matt Otto Combo, the top small group within the KU Jazz Studies Program.
Wilson is a guitarist and composer known for a nuanced body of work that moves fluidly across genres. Born in Los Angeles, Wilson is the son of the late jazz trumpeter and bandleader Gerald Wilson. His self-titled first recording with the Anthony Wilson Nonet garnered a Grammy nomination in 1997. Along with additional nonet recordings, Wilson has an acclaimed collection of organ trio albums featuring Larry Goldings and Jeff Hamilton, among others. Since 2001, he has been a core component of Diana Krall’s quartet after joining her for the Grammy-winning recording and concert film Live in Paris (2002). Over the last decade, he’s been part of sessions and performances with a diverse roster of artists, including Paul McCartney, Willie Nelson, Al Jarreau, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Leon Russell, Aaron Neville, and Barbra Streisand.
For four decades, the KU Jazz Festival has been one of the focal points for jazz performance and education in the central United States, providing the region an opportunity to hear and learn from world-class jazz musicians and educators. The evening concerts feature a first-rate lineup of some of the most important and exciting musicians in the world of contemporary jazz, and daytime clinics and master classes allow students and community members to interact with world-famous jazz musicians outside of the concert hall.
The evening concerts will begin with the Outstanding High School Ensemble (Friday) and the Outstanding College Ensemble (Saturday). During the day, approximately 50 high school, middle school and college jazz ensembles from throughout the central United States perform in Murphy Hall on KU's Lawrence campus. Based on performance merit, visiting clinicians will select one group from the big bands and combos that perform each day to perform again in the evening concert. Revolving trophies will be presented to the middle school, high school and college outstanding ensembles. These trophies will stay with the recipients until next year’s 41st Annual KU Jazz Festival, when they will be presented to the 2018 outstanding ensembles.
Both evening concerts are open to the public. Tickets for each concert are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $10 with a KU ID. Tickets can be purchased at the KU SUA office or by calling 785-864-7469.
Following the main stage concerts at Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union, the music will continue with the KU Jazz Festival After Hours Jazz Sessions, held at the All Seasons Den at The Oread, 1200 Oread Ave, Lawrence from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. both evenings.
These jazz sessions will feature performances by the Matt Otto Quintet with special guest Dave Scott, trumpet. Otto, a saxophonist and assistant professor of Jazz Studies at KU, is one of the most prominent musicians in Kansas City. Otto and Scott will be joined both evenings by four in-demand Kansas City-area musicians—Danny Embrey, guitar; T.J. Martley, piano; Jeff Harshbarger, bass; and Brandon Draper, drums - all members of the KU Jazz Studies faculty.
Admission to the After Hours Jazz Sessions is free; a cash bar will be available. Valet parking at The Oread is available for $5.