BEAVERCREEK — Jazz students and professional musicians will share the stage again during Beavercreek Weekend of Jazz Thursday- Saturday, Feb. 28- March 2 in the Beavercreek High School Alumni Auditorium, 2660 Dayton Xenia Road.
Beavercreek Music Parents Association, led by event director Tim Sakulich, is preparing for its 19th annual festival at the high school.
“This is all about providing an opportunity for students in our school system and in the Beavercreek community and in the wider Miami Valley area to really immerse and experience the jazz art form,” Sakulich said. “In addition to celebrating the music, we get to hear these top notch artists come in and perform on our stage and there’s something really special about that.”
The weekend will kick off 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 with free performances by Beavercreek’s jazz bands — Ankeney and Coy Middle Schools and Beavercreek High School’s ensembles.
Chieli Minucci, Lao Tizer, and Karen Briggs, of the contemporary jazz supergroup called the Special EFX All Stars, will observe the performances and offer constructive critiques of each group, asking the students to re-play certain parts or encouraging new techniques.
“The audience gets to see that creative performance and feedback and look at the student bands improve their sound,” Sakulich said.
Community members can see more of headliner Special EFX All Stars 8 p.m. Friday, March 1. Headed by Grammy-nominee and three-time Emmy Award-winning guitarist, composer and producer Minucci, the group is also comprised of Nelson Rangell (saxophone and piccolo), Tizer (keyboard) and Briggs (violin).
EFX All Stars has been touring and recording worldwide for 35 years and is known for its edgy sound. The group earned a Grammy nomination for its “Modern Manners” CD, and released its 21st studio album, “Deep as the Night,” in 2018.
The weekend centers around Saturday, March 2, when students traveling from all over Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana will come together for the School Jazz Band Festival.
More than 22 high school and middle school jazz bands, including Xenia High School Jazz Band, will perform throughout the day, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the main stage and the bistro stage. Central State University and University of Dayton jazz ensembles will also play. Professional jazz musicians, clinicians and educators will observe, evaluate and critique each group during a session immediately following each performance.
“Students perform on the same stage, inspired by artists, and they’re able to interact with them as part of this program,” Sakulich said.
Master Classes featuring different professionals will also be available throughout the day, teaching students and community members about musicianship, technique and performance.
The event will come to a close with its second headliner, the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble, led by composer Dave Rivello at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2.
Focusing on pieces from the last 20 years, the New Jazz Ensemble plays works often not yet heard or recorded. Based at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester in New York, they’ve recorded six albums, and won the “Best College Big Band Award” from DownBeat Student Music.
Sakulich, in his last year running the event, said the weekend is all about bringing young musicians and community members together, highlighted by well-known jazz legends.
“This is an experience that many would not get to have in a normal school program, to be able to interact with these artists, and just the fun to be able to pull it off in our own high school like this,” he said.
Tickets and a full schedule are available at www.weekendofjazz.org.