Jazz legends and music students will gather on campus this month to celebrate the American jazz style.
The 34th Carolina Jazz Festival — subtitled, “Embracing the Past, Present, and Future of Jazz” — begins today and runs for 10 days.
ATTEND THE FESTIVAL
Time: Various times until Feb. 26
Opening concert 7:30 p.m. tonight, Hill Hall Auditorium. Free admission.
The first half of the festival focuses mainly on jazz in performance.
Featured artist and nine-time Grammy winner Eddie Palmieri will bring a burst of Latin flavor to the stage of Memorial Hall.
David Garcia, director of UNC Latin ensemble Charanga Carolina, said he is looking forward to Palmieri’s concert on Friday.
“Palmieri has always drawn from jazz music to make his brand of salsa and Latin a unique form of American music,” Garcia said. “Palmieri defined the salsa sound of New York in the early 1960s.”
Marcus Printup, Joe Chambers, Conrad Herwig, the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra and the 440th Army Band North Carolina National Guard “Jazz Patriots” will also perform in the festival, along with UNC student and faculty jazz ensembles.
But performance is not the only focus of the festival. Music students ranging from middle school to college age will interact with and learn from professional jazz musicians.
Jim Ketch, the festival’s director, said that he is excited about the educational workshops and performances combining students, faculty and featured artists.
“It is a great joy for me to bring artists of this caliber to campus and to have those artists rub shoulders with our students over the length of the festival,” Ketch said.
Younger students can participate in workshops — including a jazz improvisation class led by UNC faculty and headlining trumpet player Printup — during the festival’s “Middle School Jazz Day.”
Ryan Raven, a music student at UNC, said he is looking forward to performing in the festival.
“It’s always a lot of fun being on stage and in the moment,” Raven said. “The addition of Joe Chambers and Conrad Herwig just elevates the level of energy and excitement.”
Raven encouraged UNC students to come to festival events.
“Students should look forward to great performances by their peers,” Raven said. “A lot of the student body is unaware of the amount of talent we have in our jazz program.”
Along with traditional jazz concerts comes the premiere of “Kind of Blue,” a play based on jazz legend Miles Davis.
The play, written by senior Kuamel Stewart, deals with male identity and is a celebration of black history.
“Kind of Blue” will be performed at Playmakers Theatre near the end of the festival.
Ketch said the festival is a great chance for students to experience a form of music that often goes unrecognized.
“Jazz was not talked about on the report after the Grammy Awards,” Ketch said. “Yet we often remark that American jazz is one of the country’s greatest cultural gifts to the world.”
“Jazz and Latin music are such important heritages of our collective American culture,” Garcia said. “The ones who really keep it alive are the musicians and their students.”
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