UW-Green Bay Prepares for 50th Jazz Fest!

Middle  and High School Jazz Bands from Across the State join in on the Fun

Jazz Fest, sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and held on the UW-Green Bay campus will celebrate its 50th anniversary this January, with activities that begin Thursday, January 23, 2020.

Jazz Fest invites middle and high school jazz bands from across the state to a day of workshops and masterclasses, Saturday, January 25, 2020, culminating in an afternoon concert featuring several of the school bands. The evening is capped off with a concert by a professional jazz band at the Weidner Center; this year featuring The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and The Squirrel Nut Zippers.

UWGB Jazz Fest is the second oldest jazz festival in Wisconsin. It was started in 1970 by professors Wayne Jaeckel and Lovell Ives, and has been host to thousands of high school students in its 50 years. Students get the chance to work with world-class musician educators in a collegial atmosphere that promotes one of America’s most important art forms. For many years, the festival was competitive in nature and saw upwards of 40 competing bands.

In the first couple of decades, UWGB Jazz Ensemble I would spend the January term in intensive practice sessions preparing for the festival, during which they would then perform with well-known soloists such as Clark Terry. With the loss of the January term, in recent years, the festival has been headlined by professional acts such as this year’s double bill of The Squirrel Nut Zippers and The Dirty Dozen Brass band. In addition, the competition is no longer competitive but features more time for each band with clinicians, including featuring one of the clinicians as a soloist on the added 4 p.m. concert. UWGB Jazz Fest is keeping the long tradition of quality jazz education alive in Northeast Wisconsin.

This year, there are more than a dozen bands from 10 different schools participating: Ashwaubenon High School, Green Bay East High School, Pulaski Middle School, Pulaski High School, Two Rivers High School, Evansville High School, Preble High School, West DePere High School, Bay Port High School and Jefferson High School. Following a morning and afternoon of workshops and masterclasses, six of the bands will participate in a concert to showcase their talents. The concert will be held at 4 p.m. in the Cofrin Family Hall at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.

This concert is free and the public is welcomed and encouraged to attend. As part of the 50th celebration of Jazz Fest, at the beginning of the 4 p.m. concert and the 7:30 headliner concert, UW-Green Bay Associate Professor and Jazz Fest organizer Adam Gaines will give a brief presentation on the history of Jazz Fest, highlighting some of the accomplishments from over the years.

Also as part of the 50th celebration of Jazz Fest, a Jazz Alumni Dinner Party is being held on Thursday, January 23, 2020 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Blue Opus, 1390 Bellevue St., Green Bay. The evening will feature live music and a jam session and be a chance for Jazz alumni to catch up and share their love of the art with other enthusiasts.

The event is open to the public and you do not have to be an alumnus to attend. There is a suggested donation of $10 at the door. The money raised at this event will help fund the UWGB Jazz Ensemble’s tour of Slovakia in May.

Tickets start at $20.50 and are available online at www.weidnercenter.com/events/.

For more information about Jazz Fest or how your band can take part, please contact Adam Gaines at 920-465-2440 or gainesa@uwgb.edu. For a full listing of UW-Green Bay Music events for the 2019-20 season, please visit www.uwgb.edu/music/.