After not hosting the event in 2020 due to COVID-19, Gadsden State Community College has decided to make the 2021 edition of the school’s jazz festival a two-day event, according to a statement from hurry.
The Gadsden State Jazz Festival, which celebrates the past and present of jazz in the state, has been held annually since 2017 before last year’s cancellation. This year’s event, hosted by the Gadsden State Division of Fine Arts and Music in cooperation with the Jazz Education Network, will be themed “Celebrating Jazz in Alabama” and will run from 4 to 5 November, according to the statement.
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Due to heating and cooling issues at the Gadsden State venue, the event will move from its normal location at the Wallace Hall Fine Arts Center to the Gadsden City High School Theater on November 4 and on a stage outside the Pittman Theater. on Broad Street in downtown Gadsden, before concluding with the final concert at GCHS Theater on November 5, the statement said. There will be no admission fee to any of the locations.
“We hope every musician and fan of this music will take the opportunity to come to the festival at least once during the two-day event,” said Matt Leder, instructor for Gadsden State and director of the Show Band, in the press release.
There will be performances from three high schools, six colleges and eight professional groups and musicians, as well as three clinics hosted by various musicians.
According to the press release, in addition to concerts and clinics, participating ensembles will have the opportunity to be judged. Judges will include renowned jazz musicians and clinicians Tim Leahey and Dr Michael Pendowski.
Leahey has been performing professionally since the age of 9. He has been a member and jazz soloist for the Airmen of Note, the US Air Force Jazz Ensemble, as well as for the Shook Russo Quintet.
Pendowski is the director of the Auburn University Jazz Ensemble and assistant professor of saxophone.
The two men will begin the first day of the festival at 11 a.m. with a clinic and a question-and-answer session. The Jacksonville High Jazz Ensemble will then perform at 11:40 a.m. until lunch at 12:10 p.m.
A clinic run by internationally renowned trumpeter Greg Gisbert will be held from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Jazz Quintet at 3:20 p.m., the Wallace State Jazz Ensemble at 4:00 p.m., Big Band Theory at 4:35 p.m., and the Hoover First Edition Jazz Ensemble at 7:00 p.m., followed by the main act, the Army Jazz Ambassadors.
The next day, things kick off on Broad Street at 11 a.m. with the Birmingham-Southern Jazz Ensemble. Creative Soul, a jazz ensemble made up of Leder and past and current members of the Gadsden State Show Band, will take the stage at 11:40 am. Solo pianist Julio Barreto will follow at 12:20 pm.
At 1 p.m. Sherman Irby will be presenting a clinic. Irby has recorded with the Boys Choir of Harlem, is a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and is the director of the Jazz Masters Workshop.
The Gadsden State Brass Band will take the stage at 2:10 p.m., followed by the University of Montevallo Jazz Ensemble at 2:50 p.m. and Gadsden State graduate and pianist Myles Probus at 3:30 p.m. Oracle Blue Band will perform at 5 p.m. before the festival returns to the GCHS Theater for the festival finale.
The final performers of the festival will be the Gadsden State Show Band joined by Irby and Gisbert, as well as a short set of members of the Alabama Jazz Orchestra.
At the end of the two-day performance, there will be a “jam session” at Back Forty Beer Co. where musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments and perform with special guests.
“We are exposing our community to the culture of jazz, and we’re very excited for this to be an annual event,” said Leder.
Contributors to the jazz festival include, along with Gadsden State, the Jazz Education Network, the Hardin Center, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, the Gadsden and Etowah County House, Gadsden Music Co. and Bob Moody and the Greater Gadsden Tourism Authority.