SIUE, St. Louis Jazz Club and Essentially Ellington to elevate jazz education for high schools

The Essentially Ellington Regional High School Jazz Band Festival is a day-long jazz festival that will fill Dunham Hall with world-renowned clinicians who will provide 10 high school bands with master classes.

Pictured above are performers for the St. Louis Jazz Club. Photo courtesy of Swagler.

The event, co-produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center and the jazz studies program at SIUE, and funded by The St. Louis Jazz Club, will be held Friday, March 27.

Rick Haydon, director of jazz studies, has worked as a clinician and faculty member for Jazz at Lincoln Center and said he wanted to afford high school jazz bands the opportunity to receive instant feedback from high-end professional educators.

“It should be fantastic to see the effect it has had on the kids receiving all this information all day. It just should get them fired up,” Haydon said.

He added that he thinks it is huge for the SIUE music department.

“I think anytime you can associate with the Jazz at Lincoln Center in the middle of the country is nice,” Haydon said.

The Essentially Ellington Regional High School Jazz Band Festival is an education-focused event designed to offer high school jazz bands of all levels the opportunity to perform the music of Duke Ellington and other seminal big band composers and arrangers.

Guest clinicians include Dennis Mackrel, drums, also former director of Count Basie Orchestra; Ron Carter, saxophone, and former director of jazz studies at Northern Illinois University; Derrick Gardner, trumpet, performs with Harry Connick Jr., Bob Stewart, tubist, the Juilliard School of Music; and Jeff Campbell, bass, and director of jazz studies at Eastman School of Music.

SIUE clinicians include Haydon and faculty and instructors in the music department: Haydon, Zebadiah Briskovich, Adaron Jackson, Garrett Schmidt, Jason Swagler and Miles Vandiver.

The day’s schedule includes band clinics in the morning, improvisation and rhythm section master classes in the afternoon, and an evening concert where the guest clinicians perform with the bands.

Haydon said for educational purposes, students from each of the bands benefit from listening to other bands performing.

“These kids will be listening to each other all day as well [and] that creates more of a jazz culture. This is not a competition,” Haydon said.

They will be divided up into beginner, intermediate and advanced improvisation groups in separate rooms.

Haydon added that high school students are usually not exposed to improvisation, or spontaneous composition, in jazz, at their age.

The entire event is free to high schools traveling from as far as Chicago, Sedalia, MO, and as near as Alton.

Music Department Chair Darryl Coan said he is cheering on the jazz faculty for the excellent work they do.

“The jazz faculty are putting together one heck of a day of clinics,” Coan said.

Swagler said it is great to share their experiences with music to the younger generations of players and keep this music alive.

“It’s great that kids in high school are still playing this music and are interested in it,” he said.

Swagler added that the clinicians are both great educators and players which he said is absolutely essential to the success of the program.

“You have to be well-versed in the language of jazz to be able to convey it to students,” Swagler said.

Haydon said he finds organizing events like these fulfilling because it is the only way to keep jazz alive.

“It’s sustaining an American art form,” he said. “This is where jazz was born.”

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed Under: Music

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Switch to our mobile site