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Local Jazz Festival brings L.A. musicians together with 1,000 Arizona high school band students

March 31, 2016

Get ready for a hard swinging weekend of jazz celebrating the rich legacy of big band music. Hear student jazz ensembles from across the state and featured performances by L.A.’s finest studio brass team at the 7th Annual Highland/ASU Jazz Festival, April 7–9, 2016 at Highland High School in Gilbert.

For the past seven years, the Highland/ASU Jazz Festival has been dedicated to educating and inspiring students, educators, and audiences, and to enhancing the appreciation and importance of jazz education in Arizona.

This festival provides many benefits to participants, including unbiased clinics, ratings and/or rankings by professional clinicians from around the country; an organized performing and clinic environment; professionally recorded audio and video performances; high quality performances from top musicians in the jazz industry; and 20+ master classes from area jazz educators for students and teachers.

Highland High School graduate, former festival participant and current ASU School of Music Bachelor of Jazz Performance student Dallas Fisher calls his high school and university experiences at the festival “purely influential and inspiring,” and says that his advice to younger students is to go to every master class and to ask a lot of questions. “This festival is to help you grow as a musician, and a person, and to do that you have to participate.”

The festival, which goes on for three full days, brings together 40 Arizona high school and middle school bands at Highland High School to perform throughout the day. Each band receives a clinic and a rating by guest collegiate jazz directors from around the country. In addition, the high school jazz band that receives the Judges’ Most Outstanding Award from Thursday through Saturday’s clinic performances will have the honor of opening Saturday’s Guest Artist concert.

“I always look forward to hearing the high school bands from all the districts, and to seeing the amazing guest artists,” says Dom Moio, lecturer in jazz and percussion in the ASU School of Music, who will be performing at the evening concerts. “The benefit for the students is both getting to see and hear the guest faculty perform and teach and getting to interact with the other bands from around the state.”

Each year, the festival invites world-class and often well-known, jazz musicians to be featured teachers and performers for this special event. This year’s guest artists are Wayne Bergeron, trumpet, and Andy Martin, trombone. Both of these brass performers live in the L.A. area, play regularly for live concerts with other top jazz artists, and have made a name for themselves playing for an impressive list of commercial recordings, including well-known TV shows and movies. They both bring years of experience in the jazz performing world and have a wealth of professional knowledge to share with students.

“The ASU Concert Jazz Band is fortunate to perform with the two most sought-after brass players of the L.A. studio scene,” says Michael Kocour, associate professor and director of jazz studies. “The educational benefits for our ASU students who will be working alongside these music industry leaders is enormous. Our students will be held to the same expectations that the guest artists expect of themselves and they will hear for themselves what an ‘A’ game really is.”

Concerts featuring the guest artists are sure to be a highlight of the festival, and will take place on Friday and Saturday night, April 8 and 9, at 7:30 p.m. Wayne Bergeron will be the featured soloist on Friday, April 8, and Andy Martin will be highlighted at the concert on Saturday, April 9. These concerts are open to the public.

“This festival means a lot to me,” says Dallas Fisher. “I have grown up with the Highland directors and also Mr. Kocour. It is an inspiration to arrive and see so many students and directors happy and so willing to learn.”

Clinicians involved with this year’s festival include: Barb Catlin, piano, director of jazz ensembles at Pomona College; Matt Olson, saxophone, director of jazz studies at Furman University; Aric Schneller, trombone, director of jazz studies at Sam Houston State University; Jamey Simmons, trumpet, director of jazz studies at Middle Tennessee State University; and Tom Wakeling, bass, retired chair of music, Clackamas Community College.

The festival is well known in the Arizona jazz scene for providing an impressive list of benefits not only for students, but for the performers and audiences as well.

“As an ASU student, it is exciting to perform at this festival because we get to represent ASU and its jazz program to many local students and teachers and show them what we have to offer,” says Ben Larson, a Bachelor of Music in Trombone Performance student.

The festival and concerts will take place at Highland High School, 4301 East Guadalupe Road, Gilbert, Arizona 85234, in the auditorium on the west end of the campus. Concert tickets are $20 each for general admission, for both the Friday and Saturday evening concerts.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Highland/ASU Jazz Festival web page:

Media Contact:
Heather Beaman
Communications Liaison