One of the most entertaining parts of the Music for All National Festival each year is the Jazz Band of America concert on Friday evening. Since it's creation in 2007, jazz greats such as Patti Austin, Shelly Berg, Wayne Bergeron, Ndugu Chancler, John Clayton, Dr. Lou Fischer, Luke Gillespie, Wycliffe Gordon, Ron McCurdy, Jeff Rupert, Stan Smith and Phil Woods have jammed alongside some of the most talented high school jazz musicians in the country. Today, we're looking back to that very first Jazz Band of America concert in 2007, which featured the legendary Wynton Marsalis.
Wynton Marsalis with the 2007 Jazz Band of America
The 2007 Festival marked the first year the event was named the "Music for All National Festival," combining the honor ensembles, National Concert Band Festival, National Percussion Festival and Orchestra America National Festival under one spectacular and educational experience for thousands of students. To celebrate the creation of the Jazz Band of America, Music for All welcomed conductor Ron McCurdy and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis to lead the ensemble at Clowes Memorial Hall. The talented young musicians also had the unique opportunity of opening for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. You can watch a clip from the 2007 performance of the Jazz Band of America below.
The experience of performing with Wynton Marsalis and witnessing the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra firsthand had a lasting and life-changing experience for the participants. Many of the young musicians of the 2007 Jazz Band of America have gone on to study jazz in college and perform on some of the greatest stages for jazz. Last month, the tenor saxophone soloist in the above video, Paul Melhus, appeared on an episode of NPR Music.
This year, Music for All welcomes Yamaha Artist and music educator, producer and author Caleb Chapman to lead the Jazz Band of America. Trombonist Robin Eubanks will be the featured soloist for the Friday evening concert. Click here to learn more about the 2014 MFA National Festival and purchase tickets. On March 29, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will return to Clowes Memorial Hall with the rest of the Marsalis family for a special Clowes Hall 50th Anniversary event. You can visit cloweshall.org for more information.
Seth Williams is the Advocacy Coordinator at Music for All. Seth is no stranger to Music for All and Bands of America – first as a participant and as an intern in Development and Participant Relations. He is a graduate of Butler University and previously worked in the Broadway theatre industry in New York. A proud alumnus of “The Centerville Jazz Band,” Seth is likely the biggest band nerd he knows.