Washburn hosting high school jazz festival

Regina Budden

Washburn University will host 12 area schools on April 10 for the Coleman Hawkins High School Jazz Festival. The festival will include all-day workshops and activities for students, and it will conclude with an evening concert featuring the WU jazz ensemble, and a performance by Eric Person’s jazz quartet.

From 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., the high school jazz bands will be given about a half hour each to perform three or four pieces in front of a jazz professional. The professional will then spend time critiquing them on their performance of each composition, and how they perform as a group as a whole.

“It’s a chance for local high school jazz ensembles to be critiqued by nationally recognized jazz educators,” said Craig Treinen, professor of jazz studies at Washburn, and the festival event coordinator. “It’s also a huge recruiting tool. You get 12 bands with 20 to 30 kids in them, and you’ve got 300 or 400 kids coming for a day to Washburn. It gives the students an opportunity to come and see campus.”

The festival originated as a way to celebrate the life of renowned jazz tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, a former student at Topeka High School and Washburn University. The event has become more significant this year because the annual Coleman Hawkins Legacy Jazz Festival was canceled after its most prominent funders suffered economic hardships.

“For the music student, it’s a great opportunity to see one of these musicians work with an ensemble,” said Treinen. The music education majors will benefit from the chance to observe the critiquing process.

The festival will conclude in the evening with two different concerts. The first concert will begin at 5:30 p.m., when the Washburn University Jazz ensemble performs with trumpet soloist Lorenzo Trujillo. The evening will come to a head at 7:30 p.m. with a live performance from professional jazz saxophonist Eric Person and his quartet.

“The concert in the evening is a way for students here on campus to see a national recording artist for free,” said Treinen. “You’d pay between $20 and $30 to see him otherwise.”

Treinen also encourages non-music majors to attend the evening concerts.

“If you’ve never attended a live [jazz] performance, it’s a whole different experience than, say, a rock concert,” he said.