Jazz Festival Features Zone Ensembles

Dr Craig Treinen (left) and Randy Crow give a clinic on jazz improvisation.

The sounds of jazz could be heard on the McPherson College campus as more than 350 musicians participated in the eighth annual Jazz Festival on November 4.

This year, ensembles from 18 middle and high schools across the region performed and participated in stage workshops with professional jazz educators. Clinicians also led sessions on jazz improvisation and rhythm section issues. This year’s clinicians were Dr Craig Treinen and Dr Tom Morgan of Washburn University; Gregg Walker, retired jazz teacher and woodwind assistant at McPherson College; and Randy Crow, a retired music teacher from Wichita.

Schools participating in the event included: Abilene, Dodge City, Goddard, Hesston, Junction City, McPherson, Newton, Nickerson, Osage City, Riley County, Salina Central, Smoky Valley, Sterling, Wichita North and Winfield; McPherson and Smoky Valley Colleges; and McPherson College.

Band director and associate professor of music at McPherson College, Kyle Hopkins, said the idea for the annual jazz festival came from band directors in the area who asked for quality jazz education opportunities. The festival takes place every year in the fall, usually at a time when the marching band overshadows other aspects of a marching band program, and gets bigger each year.

“Jazz is the quintessential American art form,” said Hopkins. “When you study jazz, you can’t separate music from the history of jazz, which is American history. What a beautiful thing to teach our children!

Awards were given for outstanding individual musicality and each group was evaluated and criticized on its performance by clinicians.

Willie J. Johnson

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