Editor’s note: This is the first story in a series that highlights Beavercreek Weekend of Jazz.
BEAVERCREEK — The Beavercreek Music Parents Association is putting on its annual jazz festival — combining professional musicians and Southwest Ohio band students for Beavercreek Weekend of Jazz, Thursday-Saturday, March 1-3 at the Beavercreek High School Alumni Auditorium, 2660 Dayton Xenia Road.
In its 18th year, the festival will kick off 6 p.m. Thursday, March 1 with performances by Beavercreek City Schools’ jazz bands – Ankeney and Coy Middle Schools and Beavercreek High School Jazz Ensembles One, Two, Three and Four.
After each band performs, Friday’s headliner Victor Wooten will observe the performance and then provide constructive critiques to the students.
“You get what you don’t get in a normal concert — a professional musician provides critiques live in front of the audience, giving feedback and coaching the band. The audience gets to see the interaction, and the kids are a part of that,” Tim Sakulich, director of Weekend of Jazz, said.
All school band performances are free and open to the public. Schedule is as follows: Ankeney Middle School, 6 p.m.; Coy Middle School, 6:35 p.m.; Beavercreek High School Jazz Four, 7:10 p.m.; Beavercreek High School Jazz Three, 7:45 p.m.; Beavercreek High School Jazz Two, 8:20 p.m.; Beavercreek High School Jazz One, 8:55 p.m.
The weekend will continue 8 p.m. Friday, March 2 when the Victor Wooten Trio featuring drummer Dennis Chambers and saxophonist Bob Franceschini take the stage.
“We are excited about these world-class artists,” Janice Rice, parent volunteer, said. “This a way to thank the community for supporting music in our schools. We view it as a thank you because we are bringing in world-class artists for our community to have access to … whether you are a jazz musician or not — the entertainment value of this program is phenomenal.”
Tickets are on sale for the Victor Wooten Trio concert at weekendofjazz.org; $33 for adults and $23 for students and seniors. Seating is first come first seated. High school doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Auditorium doors will open around 7:10 p.m. Those needing assistance should let the door greeters know.
On Saturday, March 3, 24 high school, junior high and middle school bands will perform continuously throughout the day every half hour, representing schools from all over Southwest Ohio.
“The program has become so popular that we had to move from a single stage to two stages,” Sakulich said.
The festival will feature Master Classes again this year 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 3. Dave Liebman from the Dave Liebman Big Band will host a one-hour class discussing his life as a professional musician. A Big Band horn player will host classes on improvisation and playing with an ensemble. Two or three Big Band rhythm section players will host classes on playing in a rhythm section.
“They’ll talk about what it’s like to be in the music profession and what it takes to be successful,” Sakulich said.
The classes are free and open to the public as well as the students.
That evening, Dave Liebman Big Band will perform in concert at 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale at weekendofjazz.org; $33 for adults and $23 for students and seniors. Seating is first come first seated. High school doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Auditorium doors will open around 7:10 p.m.
Sakulich said tickets for the community-wide events sell out or nearly sell out every year and he urges people to purchase tickets early.
“With these particular artists and their incredible reputations we do expect full audiences. This is part of the jazz vibe of the Miami Valley — it plays an important role in that,” Sakulich said. “You will not be disappointed. It shows the great appreciation for talent in our area as well as the great musical performances.”
The three-day affair is organized and run by parent volunteers. Beavercreek Music Parents Association, a non-profit, raises funds to support Beavercreek’s band and music programs.
According to Sakulich, who has directed the event for five years, parents put in nearly 300 volunteer hours and students put in nearly 300 volunteer hours for the three-day weekend, which has been widely popular over the years.
When Sakulich describes the energy in the auditorium during a concert, he uses one word: contagious.
“During several of the concerts we will have students jumping up in the aisle,” he said. “It’s really cool to see the spectrum of ages in the audience. A lot of our youth are the ones that are completely into this. So you sense when artists make connection with students — the energy goes way up. It’s amazing.”
Parent volunteers, like these volunteers who helped at the ticket sales booth in 2017, put in nearly 300 hours every year to make the Weekend of Jazz happen for students all around the region.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498 or follow @annadbolton on Facebook.