A trio of “innovative performers” will join MTSU School of Music jazz faculty to teach local student musicians in clinics over three days, culminating in a huge evening concert at the university’s annual Illinois Jacquet Jazz Festival on Saturday, March 16.
Saxophonist Larry Panella, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts and trombonist Roland Barber will guide MTSU and high school students in daytime jazz clinics, then perform in public concerts in MTSU’s Wright Music Building, located at 1439 Faulkinberry Drive.
“This year’s festival features innovative performers and educators that will be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for jazz students and audiences to experience,” said Jamey Simmons, director of jazz studies in the School of Music.
MTSU’s annual Jazz Festival, an educational event, offers area middle and high school instrumental and vocal students an individual focus on the jazz style and the art of jazz improvisation.
The School of Music renamed the event in 2016 to honor American jazz tenor saxophonist Jean-Baptiste “Illinois” Jacquet, who died in 2004 after a storied 60-year-plus career that deeply influenced artists in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll.
The Illinois Jacquet Foundation established a scholarship in 2014 in the artist’s name for students studying jazz at MTSU. The current recipient is saxophonist Gabe Collins, a junior jazz studies major.
Tenor saxophonist Panella is scheduled for the festival’s first concert Thursday, March 14, at 7:30 p.m., when he’ll perform in Hinton Hall with MTSU faculty members Matt Endahl on piano, Derrek Phillips on drums, Mike Parkinson and Simmons on trumpet and Jonathan Wires on bass.
An alumnus of the Woody Herman Orchestra and the Phil Collins Big Band, Panella is director of jazz studies at the University of Southern Mississippi. He’s also teaching a master class on Friday morning, March 15.
Trombonist Barber, a mainstay of the Nashville jazz scene, will share his knowledge with students on Saturday morning, then perform with MTSU’s Jazz Ensemble II, directed by sax professor Don Aliquo, in a free concert at noon Saturday in the Wright Building’s Instrumental Rehearsal Hall, Room 173.
Six-time Grammy winner Watts, who’s worked with Wynton and Branford Marsalis and received a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship for music composition, will share his percussion expertise with students Saturday afternoon in a jazz drum clinic.
At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Watts will perform with the MTSU Jazz Ensemble I and Faculty Jazztet in a public concert on the Hinton Hall stage to close out the festival. Simmons said the performance will feature several of Watts’ compositions.
“The evening concert will showcase our guests alongside our student and faculty artists,” the professor added. “We’re fortunate that our guests will share their gifts as renowned educators as well.”
Tickets for Panella’s March 14 concert and the March 16 evening concert with Watts and the MTSU ensembles are $10 each for the public and free for MTSU students, faculty and staff with current IDs. Discounts for area band students and educators are also available.
To reserve tickets for the March 14 and March 16 concerts, call Simmons at 615-898-2724 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more about the festival by watching the special video above.
For more information about the Illinois Jacquet Foundation, visit www.illinoisjacquetfoundation.org.
For details on other MTSU School of Music performances, call 615-898-2493 or visit the “Concert Calendar” link.
— Gina E. Fann (email@example.com)