All that jazz

A little jazz music Members of the Washburn University jazz ensemble will be helping out with the upcoming Coleman Hawkins High School Jazz Festival. Musicians featured will include the Kansas City Boulevard Big Band.

Sarah Madl

“…it bugs me when people try to analyze jazz as an intellectual theorem. It’s not. Its feeling,” said Bill Evans, jazz pianist and composer.

On April 5, jazz musicians young and old are coming together to connect with that “feeling,” because Washburn University will be hosting The Coleman Hawkins High School Jazz Festival.

During the day, high school jazz bands will be playing for clinicians who are then going to work with each ensemble, discussing methods and practices.

The clinicians for the festival are: Greg Carroll, director of education for the International Association of Jazz Education, percussion, bass, and piano; Jay Sollenberger, well-renowned trumpet player who has toured with Buddy Rich and recorded with Woody Herman; and Todd Strait, internationally recognized jazz percussionist who has played with Jay McShann and Frank Mantooth.

There will be an array of performances scheduled for the day, as well as a concert for that night. Middle schools and high schools from Topeka and surrounding areas, such as Manhattan and Junction City, are participating in a performance with the Washburn University Jazz Ensemble 1. Each high school group will perform within a 30-minute limit which is free and open to the public.

The evening performance is going to feature the Kansas City Boulevard Big Band and guest soloist Peter Christlieb. The Kansas City Boulevard Big Band is a group of musicians who come together in club-like settings and play big band jazz on a regular basis.

“This is an 18 piece jazz orchestra and we just play to play,” said Michael McGraw, trumpet player and leader of the Kansas City Boulevard Big Band.

This group contains some of the finest jazz musicians in the Midwest, some of which have a prestigious national following. The group as a whole has been nationally recognized as one of the top big bands in the country and they are coming back to play at Washburn for the second year.

For them, playing at the festival is a great opportunity to come home and reconnect. Strait is also from Topeka and will be playing the drums with the Kansas City Boulevard Big Band.

“I jumped at the opportunity to do this festival because Topeka is my hometown. I get to see my family and old friends. I get to reconnect,” said Strait, who is a full-time percussionist.

The soloist for the evening performance will be tenor saxophonist Peter Christlieb. Christlieb has been a major driving force in the West Coast jazz scene for more than 30 years. He has played in Doc Severinsen’s Tonight Show Big Band for the past 20 years and in various big bands. Christlieb is active as a guest soloist and a clinician at college and jazz festivals across the U.S.

Craig Treinen, director of jazz studies at Washburn, is the man behind the festival.

“It was a no-brainer when Craig asked me to do this festival,” said Carroll.

Treinen is in charge of the masterpiece and the members of the Washburn Jazz Ensembles will be helping him make the festival flow like clockwork.

“This festival has many purposes such as bringing live music to Topeka and allowing the kids to see what great things Washburn has to offer,” said Treinen. “These are some outstanding musicians. The audience is going to experience some of the best jazz in the country. These guys are all extremely talented.”

The evening performance with the Kansas City Boulevard Big Band will begin at 7:30 p.m. in White Concert Hall. The admission fee for adults will be $10 and $5 for students.