Originally held to honor benefactor W.E. Singleton, the annual Fall Jazz Festival will return Oct. 9 featuring performances by Jazz Orchestras I and II and VCU Jazz faculty.
Director of jazz studies Antonio Garcia said the first Jazz Festival started as a concert held in the early 2000s. The concert was a three-set extravaganza using students, alumni, faculty, guests and others. When the concert ended, Garcia said there was a feeling in the community that the concert could be an annual event.
“It’s very difficult to get everybody together in one place,” Garcia said. “But it’s something that also helps introduce our own music students to their faculty and to these ensembles.”
The Jazz Festival is the first large concert of the jazz studies season at VCU. Since both jazz orchestras have only performed together for a month, Garcia said the festival brings them new exposure to the community. The concert will include a variety of pieces from multiple jazz eras, and new music written by VCU alumni. Jazz artist-in-residence John D’earth will also perform a few trumpet solos during the festival.
“You can count there will be swing tunes, blues tunes and latin tunes,” Garcia said. “Some things were written 50 and 60 years ago, some things were written last week.”
Performing on the trombone in Jazz Orchestra I, student Colleen Trempe will be participating in her fifth Jazz Festival. This year, she will perform a solo in “Count ’Em” by Quincy Jones. Since jazz solos are improvised on the spot, her performance will be completely original material.
“I’ll actually be playing with a plunger mute to get that ‘wahh’ effect,” Trempe said.
Trempe said the Jazz Festival is a good way to kick off the concert season, and it is the one concert where everyone in the jazz program has the opportunity to play together.
“It’s always kind of a different band every year, and you’re just starting to get to know each other,” Trempe said. “It’s really a good bonding experience.”
Garcia said he always tries to include works by faculty, students and alumni in the festival. This year will include “Blues for Leiden,” written by alumni Allen Wittig. Because it is early in the semester, many current students have not finished big band pieces, but Garcia said to expect student originals in later concerts.
“We have a concert late in the semester by our small jazz ensembles,” Garcia said. “When they perform, I would say 50 percent of the music (is) student originals, maybe more.”
The Fall Jazz Festival will take place at the W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts Thursday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 the day of the performance and free for VCU students with a valid ID. Tickets can be purchased online through showclix.com.