For three decades, the KU Jazz Festival has been one of the focal points for jazz performance and education in the central United States. The festival has annually provided the region with a wonderful opportunity to hear and learn from world-class jazz musicians and educators. Evening concerts feature a first-rate lineup of some of the most important and exciting musicians in the world of contemporary jazz, while daytime clinics and master classes with these and other artists allow students and community members to interact with them outside of the concert hall.
Evening concerts are open to the general public. On Friday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Lawrence High School Auditorium, trumpeter Carl Saunders will be featured with the KU Jazz Festival All-Star Big Band under the direction of Gene Aitken. Carl Saunders, widely recognized as one of the greatest jazz trumpet players today, has worked extensively with the big bands of Bill Holman, Bob Florence, Gerald Wilson, Stan Kenton, John Williams, and many others. His 5 remarkable CD recordings under his own name have met with universal acclaim; "Awesome. Spectacular. Breathtaking. Sublime. Simply put, one of the most memorable big band albums in recent memory" was how All About Jazz assessed Saunders' Be Bop Big Band CD. Saunders will perform at the festival with the Festival All-Star Big Band, comprised of KU faculty and visiting clinicians and guest artists. The concert will open with Lawrence High School Jazz Ensemble I and the chosen Outstanding High School Ensemble.
There is another evening concert open to the public Saturday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m., also at Lawrence High School Auditorium. This concert will feature Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Kenny Garrett and his quartet. Kenny Garrett is considered by many to be one of the most important alto saxophonists in jazz. He recently won a 2010 Grammy Award for his work with Chick Corea and the "Five Peace Band"; Garrett's albums "Songbook" and "Beyond The Wall" were also previously nominated for Grammy Awards as well. He was an instrumental figure in Miles Davis' band over the last five years of the jazz icon's life; Garrett's most recent CD "Sketches of MD" is in part a tribute to this association. The Saturday night concert will open with trombonist Paul McKee and KU Jazz Ensemble I under the direction of Dan Gailey, and the chosen Outstanding College Ensemble.
The Friday and Saturday evening festival concerts will begin this year with a new feature--the Outstanding High School Ensemble (Friday night) and the Outstanding College Ensemble (Saturday night). Visiting clinicians will select (based on performance merit) one group from the big bands and combos that perform during the day to perform on 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 KU Jazz Festival, when they will be presented once again to the 2011 winners. In addition, the Outstanding College Ensemble will receive a $1,500 award. Trophies and awards are being made possible this year through the generous support of Reach Out Kansas, Inc.
Both concerts are $15/general admission and $10/students and seniors. All seats are general admission.