ROCHESTER, NY — When Gibbs Street becomes Jazz Street for the eight jazz-packed days of the Rochester International Jazz Festival (RIJF) from June 10-18, Eastman School of Music will be front and center on many of the festival’s indoor and outdoor stages. Eastman’s faculty, alumni and student artists once again will shine in performances from the Jazz Street Stage, the Eastman Theatre, and in clubs throughout Rochester’s popular East End Neighborhood.
Eastman Jazz Showcase Concert: 2005 Scholarship Winners · Monday, June 13 · Eastman Theatre · 7:30 pm
Students who have been selected as scholarship and award winners throughout the 2004-05 academic year will come together for one major “winners’ showcase” concert on June 13, under the direction of Harold Danko, professor of jazz piano and chair of the School’s jazz studies department. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. with a performance by the Youth Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Eastman Community Music School (ECMS) associate dean of jazz and percussion Howard Potter; awards will be announced at 8:00 p.m., and the Eastman Jazz Ensemble will play directly following the awards announcement (8:30 p.m.).
Bob Sheppard, an Eastman graduate and one of the most highly respected and well-known improvising saxophone artists on the music scene today, will sit in with the Eastman Jazz Ensemble, conducted by Bill Dobbins. Currently a member of The Peter Erskine Trio, Sheppard has toured with Chick Corea and Origin for two years and is featured on Corea’s Grammy-nominated CD, Change. Sheppard has played with artists including Freddie Hubbard, Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Horace Silver, Lyle Mays, Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band, Billy Childs, Nat Adderley. Steely Dan, Rickie Lee Jones, Manhattan Transfer, Burt Bacharach, Elvis Costello, Randy Newman and many others.
Among the award-winning student artists who will play with the Eastman Jazz Ensemble on June 13 are 2004 Downbeat Magazine Student Award winning arranger Clarence Hines and drummer Jared Schonig. Other current award-winning students and recent alumni performing include Shirantha Beddage on saxophone, pianist Mamiko Kitaura, Dan Loomis on bass, Brian Shaw on trumpet; and saxophonist Kirsten Edkins.
Three Eastman Community Music School (ECMS) students playing in the Youth Jazz Orchestra are winners of the RIJF Scholarship, given to high school seniors who are chosen for their musical abilities and accepted into Eastman School’s jazz studies program. This year’s winners are drummer Chris Potter, saxophonist Anthony Libutti, and trombonist Nick Finzer, who plays trombone. Each of these students will enroll in the Eastman School of Music in the fall of 2005:
Music Educators Jazz Ensemble · Friday, June 17 · Jazz Street Stage (corner Gibbs and East) · 7:15 and 9:15 p.m.
Music teachers from more than 12 school districts throughout Monroe County will play a wide selection of popular jazz and original works when the Music Educators Jazz Ensemble hits the Jazz Street Stage on June 17. This is an unusual opportunity for students of virtually every jazz instrument to see and hear their teachers in a performance setting — and to enjoy some of their jazz favorites, from Charlie Parker to Duke Ellington. Original jazz compositions by Tom Davis, Howard Rowe and new arrangements by Bernie Heveron will be part of this unique showcase. Howard Potter directs the Music Educators Jazz Ensemble.
Eastman faculty perform at Jazz Fest
In addition to Eastman students and graduates, Eastman faculty performers can be found throughout the Festival. The celebrated Harold Danko Trio will perform in the Café at the Little Theatre, 240 East Avenue, on Friday, June 10 at 10 p.m. Long-time partners, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Jeff Hirshfield, will be featured in selections from the trio’s SteepleChase CDs.
Presenting music from their latest release, Stop-Start, on Sons of Sound Recordings, Trio East (performing Thursday, June 16, at 6 p.m. in the Big Tent, corner of Gibbs and Main Street, and at the Little Theatre at 10 p.m.) features three Eastman faculty: Drummer Rich Thompson, who has toured with the Count Basie Orchestra, and toured and recorded with the Glenn Miller and Nelson Riddle Orchestras, among others; trumpet player Clay Jenkins, who has toured and/or recorded with the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and the big bands of Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, and Count Basie, as well as small groups led by Harold Danko, Joe La Barbara, and Kim Richmond; and bassist Jeff Campbell, who performs regularly with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Marian McPartland, and Gene Bertoncini, and is also a member of the Eastman Jazz Trio.
As the perfect closer to every evening’s festivities, Eastman faculty member Bob Sneider will lead an open jam nightly, beginning at 10:30 p.m. at the State Street Bar & Grill at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. No two nights’ jam sessions will be alike, as any number of Jazz festival musicians may choose to stop in for an evening’s music making.
Eastman alumni dominate RIJF
Among the 500-plus musicians who will play at this year’s Jazz Festival are many notable Eastman School graduates. Drummer Dave Mancini, leader of the Dave Mancini Quarter (Sunday, June 12, 6 p.m. in the Big Tent), received a Performer’s Certificate while he completed his degree at Eastman, and has gone on to play with Doc Severinsen, Maynard Ferguson, Chuck Mangione and many others. Jared Schonig, featured drummer in the band Paradigm Shift (Sunday, June 12, 8:30 and 10 p.m. in the Big Tent) is a recent Eastman graduate, and Toby Koenigsberg brings his trio home to Rochester (Monday, June 13, 6 p.m. in the Big Tent, and 10 p.m. at the Little Theatre), where he graduated from Eastman with a Master’s degree in jazz and contemporary media. Rochester music students will remember drummer Ted Poor, an Eastman graduate and former ECMS teacher, who is appearing with Third Wheel (Sunday, June 12, 10 p.m. at the Little Theatre).
Eastman’s “campus” becomes “Jazz Street”
In addition to the numerous performance in Eastman Theatre and Kilbourn Hall, Gibbs Street itself has been renamed “Jazz Street” for the duration of the festival. The street will be closed to traffic during the weekends and will feature live music from 4-11 p.m. on an outdoor stage at the corner of East Avenue and Gibbs. More than 30 hours of great jazz — featuring everything from international artists to high school bands—is scheduled, and it’s all free!
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Note to editors: Interviews with Eastman faculty and student artists can be arranged.