February 15, 2017

Jazz Festival returns to SIU

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The SIU Jazz Festival returns to Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Feb. 25 and brings a Saluki home for a visit. 

The annual event is an educational and competitive opportunity for junior high and high school musicians from the region. It’s also a chance for jazz lovers and would-be jazz lovers in the area to hear a high-quality performance from a specially selected guest artist.  

This year’s guest is Tim Pitchford, formerly a faculty member at the SIU School of Music and now director of the jazz program at the Lovett School in Atlanta, Ga. 

Pitchford, a trombonist, will be the featured player in a performance of the SIU Studio Jazz Orchestra at 12:30 p.m., and he’ll teach a masterclass at 1 p.m. His performance credentials include Maureen McGovern, Arturo Sandoval, Gloria Gaynor, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, K.C. and the Sunshine Band and others, and he appears on several Grammy-nominated recordings. 

“Many factors go into selecting the guest -- first and foremost their instrument,” Dick Kelley, director of jazz studies at SIU and assistant professor of saxophone, said. “I try to rotate prominent jazz instruments from year to year -- that way we don’t have five years in a row of trumpet players for example. It’s been a while since we had a trombone guest.” 

Participating schools perform a short set during the day, and then have a chance to hear a professional critique of their collective performance. It’s an entertaining and educational approach that emphasizes performance and professionalism. The day ends with an awards ceremony at 5:10 p.m. 

Here is the schedule of school performances. All events take place in Altgeld Hall.

Paducah Junior High School -- 10: 25 a.m.

T.S. Hill Middle School (Dudley, Mo.) -- 10:50 a.m.

Northwest High School (Hughesville, Mo.) -- 11:15 a.m.

Cape Central Junior High School (Cape Girardeau, Mo.) -- 3 p.m.

Dexter High School (Dexter, Mo.) -- 3:25 p.m.

North County High School (Bonne Terre, Mo.) -- 3:50 p.m.

Carterville High School -- 4:15 p.m.