The sounds of saxophones, trombones and trumpets will fill the air as the 33rd Carolina Jazz Festival kicks off today.
The North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra, participants of the Essentially Ellington Regional High School Jazz Festival, Charanga Carolina and UNC Jazz Band and Jazz Combos will join with three professional jazz acts to bring a wide array of jazz music to campus for the four-day festival.
Jim Ketch, UNC professor of music and director of jazz studies, began the festival in the spring of 1978. He said he first started the festival in part to elevate the status of the university’s jazz program.
Ketch said the festival began as a modest event. But as residents from around the area came to perform and bigger artists traveled to Chapel Hill, it became a community event.
“The Carolina Jazz festival is not only exciting because of what it gives musically to the community, but that it also brings in world-renowned artists throughout the country or from different parts of the world,” said David Garcia, the director of Charanga Carolina — a student ensemble that plays Cuban music.
This year’s featured musicians will be the Terence Blanchard Quintet, Jason Marsalis and Ivan Renta.
Ketch said he is excited to have the jazz trumpeter Blanchard perform. Blanchard has won two Grammys and been nominated for a Golden Globe.
The other featured artists, Marsalis and Renta, will perform with the UNC ensembles and the jazz orchestra throughout the festival.
The guest artists also will be judges for the high school jazz competition on Thursday at the Great Hall and Cabaret of the Carolina Student Union.
There will also be jazz sessions after the concerts Friday and Saturday night at the West End Wine Bar.
Ketch said Marsalis and Renta will be present, and Terrence could make an appearance.
New jazz pairing
This year, two local ensembles will share the stage together for the first time.
Charanga Carolina and the UNC Jazz Band will perform together with Marsalis and Renta Saturday night in Memorial Hall.
UNC Jazz Band member Ryan Raven said he is excited about the chance to play with Charanga Carolina. He said both ensembles have been practicing and learning about each other’s different styles for the past few weeks.
“It’s almost illegal how much fun we are having,” Raven said, “and I know that it’s going to get that much better with the guest artists.”
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