Southern Illinois University System - Edwardsville

03/29/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/29/2024 11:51

SIUE Essentially Ellington Festival is 10 Years Strong

SIUE Essentially Ellington Festival is 10 Years Strong

March 29, 2024, 12:00 PM

The recent Essentially Ellington Festival, co-sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center, was hosted for its tenth year on Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus on March 22 at Dunham Hall Theater.

High school jazz ensembles had a full day of master classes with top clinicians Reginald "Reggie" Thomas, Christopher Dorsey, Tatum Greenblatt and Dr. Bennett Wood, ending the day with a 7:30pm concert. An afternoon Open Rehearsal featured the SIUE Concert Jazz Band, led by Thomas who has held "The Count's Seat" as a member of The Count Basie Orchestra.

Jason Swagler, associate professor of jazz saxophone and director of Jazz Studies said, "We had a great day of music making. The SIUE jazz faculty and our guest artists worked with over 350 students in workshops and instrumental clinics. The lunchtime jam session was packed with students eager to play; always a fun part of the day. We heard many great student bands who are learning the tradition of jazz through the study of both historic and contemporary jazz compositions. In the evening, we joined the participating bands on stage and made music together in an unforgettable concert."

He added, "We are thankful to Jazz at Lincoln Center and the St. Louis Jazz Club, who have made it possible for us to offer the festival entirely free for participating bands for 10 years running. Improvising and confronting uncertainty head on are major elements in jazz performance. It's great to hear students embrace this tradition and I hope they gain the confidence to apply the same philosophy in other aspects of life."

Photos by Howard Ash