Bands from across the state are gathering at UAF’s Fine Arts Complex this Thursday to participate in the 27th annual Jazz Festival. This event will cover various aspects of performing jazz, but it is not only for musicians.
From April 16 to 18, jazz concerts will be performed in the Davis Concert Hall for free. Thursday will start with a jazz concert followed by a wind symphony and jazz band that will feature guest artists. Friday features all participating groups taking turns to perform, including Fairbanks Community Jazz Band. Honor Bands and Choirs will perform on Saturday.
“[Jazz Fest] has grown by leaps and bounds from a local festival to having 350 students state wide,” James Bicigo, director of Jazz Fest, said. “It was originally only one or two concerts.”
These participating groups are made up of middle and high school kids from around Alaska, notably Palmer, Fairbanks, Wasilla and North Pole. Each town is bringing a combination of bands and choirs from its schools. In addition to the concerts, the choirs will be able to participate in KUAC’s Alaska Live, an interview and live performance radio show, on Thursday.
Between concerts there is a variety of workshops for students to partake in. All of them have something to do with jazz music such as working with their instrument of choice, improv and rhythm theory to developing from a high school student to playing for major bands.
While Jazz Fest is primarily about having fun learning and performing music, it also holds the purpose of showing off UAF to middle and high school students. It gives them a chance to see the campus in action and see if it’s right for them.
“We want [students] on campus to meet faculty, students and to meet our jazz band,” Bicigo said. “Every year we get students for music and all other subjects.”
In addition, famous guest jazz performers will be coming up to UAF to teach and play in the concerts. These include Vince Cherico on drums, Victor Barranco on trombone, Jason Kush on saxophone, Vince di Martino on trumpet, Judi Donaghy Vinar with vocals, Michael Wolff on piano and Andy McKee on bass.
“They’re all terrific,” Bicigo said. “It’s really nice to have Victor Barranco. He was my student when he was in high school. All the guest artists are really first rate and we’re excited to have them.”
If You Go:
Thursday, April 16