BEAVERCREEK — It has been said by American jazz legends that jazz is a lot like life – “it’s best when you improvise,” it has a way of “washing away the dust of everyday life,” and if you “hit the wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad.”
If you have to ask what jazz is, jazz great Louis Armstrong once said, “you’ll never know.”
Jazz is about being in the moment; it’s America’s musical gift to the world.
Coming soon – the first weekend of March – Beavercreek High School is going to be overflowing with jazz, with thousands of students, parents, performers and music educators.
In what one headline performer calls a “national treasure,” 32 school jazz bands, numerous professors, clinicians and national performers will converge March 2-4 for the Beavercreek Music Parents Association’s 17th Annual Weekend of Jazz Festival at the high school.
Janice Rice, spokesperson for the parent’s association, said the festival offers youth from the tri-state area tremendous opportunities to learn about jazz and enhance their musicianship.
National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Ellis Marsalis and international percussion sensation Sherrie Maricle and her DIVA Jazz Orchestra will headline the festival, with Marsalis performing at 8 p.m. Friday, March 3, and Maricle performing at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 4.
In addition to those headline performances, the festival features a wide variety of learning opportunities for students in the form of “Master Classes” and a “School Jazz Band Festival,” which features exhibition performances by the more than 32 high school and middle school jazz bands and combos from throughout the state and Kentucky and Indiana. During the school festival, which is all day Saturday, March 4, professional jazz musicians, clinicians, and educators are enlisted to observe, evaluate and critique each group.
The groups then meet with the evaluator, who provides feedback and works with the bands to improve their performances. During Master Classes, professionals work with groups of students to teach them about musicianship, technique and jazz performance.
“These opportunities consistently rank as one of the highlights of the weekend for student participants,” Rice said. “There is really nothing else like this going on that we know of.”
Both headline and student performances are conducted in Alumni Auditorium at the Beavercreek High School, located at 2660 Dayton-Xenia Road. Tickets for the headline performances are $30 for adults and $20 for students and senior citizens, and can be purchased online at www.weekendofjazz.org.
All student performances are free and open to the public.
Brian Evans is a freelance writer for Greene County News.