GREEN BAY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Brown County

Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Jazz Fest reaches 50-year milestone at UW-Green Bay

Critic At Large

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Jazz Fest will celebrate its 50th anniversary this week in multiple ways.

According to a press release: Activities start Thursday, Jan. 23, and continue Saturday, Jan. 25, culminating in afternoon and evening concerts. Info: weidnercenter.com.

+ The Jazz Alumni Dinner Party will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday at the Blue Opus, 1390 Bellevue St., Bellevue. The event will feature live music and a jam session and will be a chance for jazz alumni to catch up and share their love of the art with other enthusiasts.

The event is open to the public. A suggested donation of $10 at the door will help fund the UWGB Jazz Ensemble’s tour of Slovakia in May.
+ Jazz Fest invites middle and high school jazz bands from across the state to a day of workshops and masterclasses Saturday, with an afternoon concert featuring school bands.

Participating this year are more than a dozen bands from 10 schools: Ashwaubenon High School, Green Bay East High School, Pulaski Middle School, Pulaski High School, Two Rivers High School, Evansville High School, Preble High School, West De Pere High School, Bay Port High School and Jefferson High School.

Following a morning and afternoon of workshops and masterclasses, six of the bands will participate in a concert to showcase their talents. The concert will be held at 4 p.m. in Cofrin Family Hall at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. Admission to this concert is free, and the public is welcome.

+ The festival is capped off Saturday with a 7:30 p.m. headliner concert by professional bands from New Orleans, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and The Squirrel Nut Zippers. Info: snzippers.com and dirtydozenbrass.com.

As part of the 50th celebration of Jazz Fest, at the beginning of the 4 p.m. concert and the 7:30 headliner concert, UWGB associate professor and Jazz Fest organizer Adam Gaines will give a brief presentation on the history of Jazz Fest, highlighting accomplishments.

UWGB Jazz Fest is the second oldest jazz festival in Wisconsin. It was started in 1970 by professors Jerry Abraham and Lovell Ives and has been host to thousands of high school students in its 50 years. Wayne Jaeckel was also an early enthusiast and organizer.

UWGB students and students from across the region get the chance to work with world-class musician educators in a collegial atmosphere that promotes one of America’s most important art forms.

The festival has transformed over the years. It its founding, Jazz Fest was competitive in nature and saw upwards of 40 competing bands. In the first decades, UWGB Jazz Ensemble I participants would spend the January term in intensive practice sessions preparing for the festival, during which they would then perform with well-known soloists such as Clark Terry. With the loss of the January term, the festival began headlining professional acts, such as this year’s double bill. Today, the festival features more time for each band with clinicians, including featuring one of the clinicians as a soloist in the 4 p.m. concert.

The university says, “UW-Green Bay Jazz Fest celebrates and enriches the long tradition of quality jazz education alive in Northeast Wisconsin.”

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