April is Jazz Appreciation Month in the U.S. and it appears that the truly American art form of music will have its day - or days - in St. Louis this year.
The official announcement is in --- and it looks pretty good for jazz afficianados in the metro St. Louis region for 2009 --- the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival has a nice home at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and it appears to pack some punch with great headliners like a St. Louis favorite in the John Pizzarelli Quartet, trumpet extraordinaire Jon Faddis (wow, those are some chops!), legendary saxophonist Lou Marini (Saturday Night Live, and The Blues Brothers) and quintessential drummer Peter Erskine (Weather Report, and a Grammy Award winner), as well as several groups with a local and regional flavor, April 16th through 18th.
The Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center on the UM-St. Louis (UMSL) campus is where much of the focus will remain during the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival in 2009, with workshops for those up-and-coming jazz musicians held throughout the festival at the Touhill A + B halls as well as in the Lee Theatre.
Quoting from the jazz festival's press release: "Over 750 students representing 45 groups from 33 schools will flock to the festival, in addition to teachers, parents and local jazz enthusiasts." UMSL jazz studies and artistic director Jim Widner says “The interest from participating schools has exceeded our expectations,” adding, “...as in previous years, we have had to start a waiting list.”
On Thursday, April 16th, the initial gathering will include bands from throughout the region representing the high school, colleges/universities, and professional levels. The Thursday schedule includes large ensemble and combo clinics critiqued by world-renowned adjudicators, three master classes and high school band performances. All of the daytime artist clinics, master classes and band performances are FREE and open to the public. These will be located at the Lee Theater and the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.
On Friday, April 17th, following more than a baker's dozen performing in the Lee Theatre, there will be clinics including a drum clinic at Noon by two-time Grammy ® Award winning drummer Peter Erskine. At 8 p.m. in the Touhill Performing Arts Center (TPAC), it's Lou Marini, performing a mesmerizing set on tenor sax. His ability to switch genres is because he consistently performs with "chameleon-like adaptability" in jazz, rock, blues and classical. Also on the bill that evening is drummer Peter Erskine, brining his sophisticated rhythms and versatility to the stage. Ticket prices range from $10-$15-$25, and may be purchased at the Touhill Performing Arts Center ticket office by calling (314) 516-4949, toll-free (866) 516-4949 or online at www.touhill.org.
Saturday, April 18th, in the TPAC, John Pizzarelli Quartet entertains along with Jon Faddis. Tickets for that evening's performance range in price from $10-$15-$25, and may be purchased at the Touhill Performing Arts Center ticket office by calling (314) 516-4949, toll-free (866) 516-4949 or online at www.touhill.org.
For five (5) years at the UM–St. Louis, the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival has brought jazz masters together with middle school, high school and university students to share and celebrate jazz, rightly heralded as a truly American art form of music.