Updated April 12, 4:45 p.m.:
MTSU’s renowned Illinois Jacquet Jazz Festival, which went virtual, live and free for music lovers and student musicians for the first time in its history, is now on record as a big success!
The April 10 concert marked the first time the Jazz Ensemble I performed songs from the CD live. They recorded four of the tunes in the MTSU Department of Recording Industry‘s Studio B in 2019 and the remaining six in a Nashville studio in February 2020.
The ensemble and audience listened to the student group’s arrangement of festival guest artist Gary Smuylan‘s song “Olivia’s Arrival” in the video featured above.
Smuylan, the 2020 Jazz Times Readers Poll top saxophonist, collaborated with the ensemble on the new arrangement, contributing his ideas via Zoom and his sax solo via iPad. Smuylan also presented a clinic via Zoom for festival participants during the day.
Pamela Jacquet Davis, president of the Illinois Jacquet Foundation and the daughter of the late jazz great, offered a special recorded message during the concert and announced the newest recipient of the Illinois Jacquet Scholarship in Jazz Studies at MTSU, freshman Baily Johnstone of Tullahoma, Tennessee.
“By the looks of the YouTube livestream, we had around 500 separate views of all of the events on the livestream and also a good number on the Zoom clinics as well,” Jazz Studies Program Director Jamey Simmons said in an April 12 email.
“What was priceless was that our jazz students and my jazz pedagogy class have a valuable, inspiring event and that the next generation of MTSU students participated. I hope next year we can enjoy each other’s company again in person.”
The day’s concerts, plus Smuylan’s clinic, will be available on the School of Music’s livestream channel for a limited time at www.mtsu.edu/musiclivestream. The Jazz Ensemble I’s complete 75-minute concert is available below and at the YouTube channel.
— Gina E. Fann (email@example.com)
(published April 5, 2021)
MTSU’s Jacquet Jazz Festival goes virtual April 10 for free concerts, workshops
MTSU’s renowned Illinois Jacquet Jazz Festival is coming to music lovers on Saturday, April 10, offering live performances and student workshops with 2020 Jazz Times Readers Poll saxophonist Gary Smulyan and MTSU School of Music jazz faculty and students.
Streaming live — and free — from MTSU’s Wright Music Building with support from the Tennessee Arts Commission, the daylong festival will culminate in a concert at 5:30 p.m. Central featuring Smulyan and MTSU’s Jazz Ensemble I to celebrate the student ensemble’s new CD, “The Middle Way.”
Music lovers can find a complete festival schedule — and middle and high school musicians can register through Thursday, April 9, to participate in all the online music clinics via Zoom — at www.mtsu.edu/music/jazzfest.php.
The day’s concerts will be available at www.mtsu.edu/musiclivestream.
Smulyan, who’ll discuss his career and offer sax and jazz improvisation suggestions at a music clinic at 3:30 p.m. Central Aug. 10, is a faculty member at the Amherst College and the artistic director at the Berkshire Hills Music Academy in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
A repeat saxophonist of the year in multiple critics’ polls, Smuylan has released 10 of his own albums, been part of six Grammy-winning projects and performs with the famed Vanguard Jazz Orchestra as well as his own band and other artists.
“The concert and recording will showcase Smulyan’s abilities as a legendary performer and composer, recorded by our student artists,” said Jamey Simmons, director of MTSU’s Jazz Studies Program.
Simmons said the 5:30 p.m. concert also will include selections by MTSU graduate assistant saxophonist Miguel Alvarado; prominent jazz saxophonist Chris Potter and jazz pianist Horace Silver; and the festival’s honoree, tenor saxophonist Jean-Baptiste “Illinois” Jacquet.
MTSU’s annual Jazz Festival gives area middle and high school musicians an individual focus on the jazz style and the art of jazz improvisation. Students in MTSU’s jazz program and area schools’ jazz ensembles participate in concerts and clinics led by faculty members and guests throughout the event.
The Illinois Jacquet Foundation established a scholarship for MTSU jazz students in the artist’s name in 2014. The School of Music renamed the festival in 2016 to honor 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.
MTSU’s Jazz Ensemble I is the program’s top performing student group. These experienced student musicians focus on cutting-edge works and big-band repertoire alongside new compositions and arrangements of their own.
One of the 10 cuts on their new CD, recorded in 2019 and 2020 through a partnership with the MTSU jazz program and the Department of Recording Industry, is available below.
“‘The Middle Way’ features the Jazz Ensemble I in a variety of jazz styles, from the blues to big band, hard bop and funk to contemporary jazz, both instrumental and vocal,” Simmons said, praising Master of Fine Arts in Recording Arts and Technologies alumnus Andrew Fiddler, the CD’s chief audio engineer, for his expertise in capturing the music.
“Highlighting the depth of our soloists and the group dynamics was a goal, and it succeeds to the benefit of the listeners. This recording shows off both our student artists and our music industry presence in Middle Tennessee.”
For more information about the Illinois Jacquet Jazz Festival at MTSU, to donate to the scholarship fund and to get a copy of “The Middle Way,” contact Simmons at 615-898-2724 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Illinois Jacquet Foundation, visit www.illinoisjacquetfoundation.org.
For details on MTSU School of Music performances and events, call 615-898-2493 or visit the Concert Calendar online.
— Gina E. Fann (email@example.com)