Integrated festival program to jazz up Washburn campus

This weekend Washburn will host the Coleman Hawkins Jazz Festival, which is geared toward students from area colleges and high schools.

Saturday, April 3, musicians such as jazz pianist Sean Parsons of Marshall University, Washburn’s Jazz Ensemble, jazz vibraphonist Greg Carroll and The Blue Room All-Stars will perform at White Concert Hall at 7 p.m. The concert is open to the public and free of charge.

Washburn freshman Melissa Duncan likes to keep her eye out for free events on campus and hopes to join in on the festivities.

“It’s always nice to see something happening on campus that isn’t just about sports,” said Duncan

She feels that the festival is a good opportunity to enjoy live music and activities for people in the local community and not just students.

“It’s really rare to see live music going on in Topeka, I hope this leads to more concerts in the future,” she said.

The Coleman Hawkins Jazz Festival is a community jazz festival, which, according to the festival Web site, features local and regional jazz artists in combination with university jazz programs. It also books national headliner acts to round out the lineups. The goal is not only to entertain audiences, but to promote and elevate jazz as an art form in the community and to provide a venue for local and regional jazz groups. The group feels that many citizens are unaware of the fine jazz artists who exist in the community and hopes to raise awareness for performers throughout the country.

“I’m definitely attending the concert, and I hope to introduce a lot of friends to jazz, as well,” said Washburn student and jazz enthusiast Mike Bowser. “It’s not something you would be subject to for many in our generation, but it’s definitely easy to get into. You don’t have to know any lyrics. You don’t even have to know who’s playing it. You can really just sit back, relax, and appreciate what you’re hearing.”

Past Jazz Festival and fundraising proceeds have gone to the Kansas Children’s Service League and to scholarship programs. The scholarship program helps to provide private music lessons for local youth through the Topeka Jazz Workshop Band Inc. The program is administered by Craig Treinen, saxophonist and director of jazz studies at Washburn.