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Jazz Fest guest artist Donny McCaslin.
The 21st Annual West Chester University Jazz Festival celebrates both the beauty and intensity of jazz performance for musicians and laymen alike. Hosted by the School of Music, this year’s festival runs from Tuesday, Feb. 8, through Friday, Feb. 11, with a series of concerts for the public and a clinic for musicians.
The highlight of this year’s festival is saxophonist and international headliner Donny McCaslin. Jazz Fest organizer Marc Jacoby calls McCaslin “a young lion of jazz” and notes that his band members are all well-known jazz musicians. McCaslin will work with student musicians on Thursday afternoon and perform Thursday evening with his quartet featuring Antonio Sanchez on drums, Scott Colley on bass and Uri Caine on piano.
The other guest artists include the Curtis Brothers, Zaccai and Luques, a New York City-based duo who epitomize the future of Latin jazz, and their band, Insight. Socially and politically aware individuals, the brothers aspire to entertain and engage listeners by incorporating in their music an awareness of societal change.
The appeal of this music, notes Jacoby, is that “Jazz reflects our democratic values” as an American musical motif. On the Lincoln Center’s jazz education website, the center’s Artistic Director of Jazz, Wynton Marsalis, says, “Jazz calls us to engage with our national identity. It gives expression to the beauty of democracy and of personal freedom and of choosing to embrace the humanity of all types of people. It really is what American democracy is supposed to be.”
The Festival’s performances take place in the Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre located in the Performing Arts Center on High Street.
The performance schedule is:
Tuesday, Feb. 8
WCU Jazz Harp Ensemble at noon.
West Chester University Faculty Sextet at 8:15 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 9
Steve Giordano Trio at noon.
Curtis Brothers Latin-Jazz at 8:15 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 10
Donny McCaslin Clinic at noon.
Donny McCaslin Quartet at 8:15 p.m. Tickets $10; $5 seniors and students.
Friday, Feb. 11
WCU Jazz Sampler Concert featuring WCU Student Ensembles at 7:30 p.m. Honors Jazz Sextet, Criterions Jazz Ensemble, Latin Jazz Ensemble, Statesmen Jazz Ensemble, Vocal Jazz. Tickets $10; $5 seniors and students.