Eau Claire Jazz Festival is back for the first…

MUSIC TO OUR EARS. The return of the Eau Claire Jazz Festival marks the end of a three-year drought for the event due to the ongoing pandemic.

For the first time in three years, the most jazzy event in the Chippewa Valley is back and bigger than ever.

The 56th Annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival makes a strong comeback on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus and in downtown Eau Claire on April 22-23, and this in-person event is making up for a lot of time. lost. The weekend will include four key elements: student sessions, masterclasses, a concert series and a jazz exploration in downtown Eau Claire.

The major change the festival is making this year is the renaming of the jazz crawl from “52nd Street” to simply the “Jazz Crawl”. The event will largely remain the same, with over 40 bands performing at 17 different venues featuring a variety of musical styles including ragtime, blues, acoustic and big band.

A signature UW-Eau Claire music event, the festival is run by Eau Claire Jazz Inc., an organization dedicated to music education and bringing world-class music and entertainment to the community.

Quentin Volk, director of Eau Claire Jazz, is proud not only of the world-class music that this “return to normal” will bring to the Chippewa Valley, but also of all the hard work the students have to collaborate and organize to improve the festival. than ever.

“It’s part of my job to look out there to see what other festivals are doing, and it’s worth noting that the Eau Claire Jazz Festival is not only one of the biggest in the country, but the only entirely student-run,” Volk said. .

For Volk, a professional jazz trumpet player and Blugold graduate himself, this long-awaited return to in-person jazz music and education is particularly exciting.

“A lot of group directors were really grateful for our virtual participation model last year,” Volk said. “While we’re excited to have 90-100 schools participating on campus again, travel just isn’t an option for some schools for a variety of reasons. We’re really excited to still be able to offer online performance and judging for those who need it or prefer it.

This year’s signature concert at the Pablo Center features back-to-back evenings of high-energy jazz provided by two-time Grammy Award winner Diane Schuur and Grammy nominee Donny McCaslin. Guest artists will be accompanied on stage by the Grammy-nominated UW-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble 1.

For more information on the return of the Eau Claire Jazz Festival, visit their website eauclairejazz.com.

Willie J. Johnson