The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 20, 2014

Waseca jazz bands, guest artists get together for festival

Daylong jazz festival to be held on Saturday


The Mankato Free Press

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WASECA — Professional and amateur musicians will jam together when Waseca plays host to a daylong jazz festival in Central Auditorium on Saturday.

Waseca's tradition of exceptional jazz music is being carried on by five student ensembles at Waseca Junior High and Senior High Schools. All of these groups will participate in performances and workshops throughout Saturday.

Waseca High School’s Jazz I ensemble was the only high school jazz band selected to play this year's Minnesota Music Educators Association annual state convention on Feb. 14 and 15. The performance was recorded and will be broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio at a date yet to be announced.

The 17th annual Jazz Festival culminates with a 7 p.m. concert. The concert features Waseca Jazz I, Southern Minnesota Real Big Band and special guests Robert Baca and Gunnery Sgt. Jason Knuckles.

The Southern Minnesota Real Big Band, established in 1998, includes 18 of the region's top jazz players performing a wide variety of contemporary sounds. About half of its members are band directors.

Trumpet player Robert Baca is director of jazz studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He directs the University Jazz Ensemble I, which is recognized as one of the premiere jazz ensembles in the United States. In the past decade, the ensemble has toured throughout the United States, Europe and the Pacific Rim. In 1991, they performed in China, being recognized as the first jazz ensemble to tour that country since opening its borders to the western world. The ensemble has recorded 10 CDs to date. Six CDs were awarded the prestigious Down Beat Award in the “Best Big Band” category. Two were nominated for a Grammy.

Baca has toured with Frank Sinatra, Buddy Rich, Tony Bennett and Mel Torme.

Gunnery Sgt. Jason Knuckles of Kansas City is a Marine Corps district recruiter and band placement director. He has performed and taught jazz clinics at many schools throughout the Midwest.

Edie Schmierbach

If you go What 17th annual Waseca Jazz Festival When All day Saturday with culminating concert at 7 p.m. Where Central Auditorium, 501 E. Elm St., Waseca Tickets $7 for adults and $4 for students; Waseca band students get in free if they are accompanied by adult with paid admission