Gustavus Jazz Jamboree Features GRAMMY-nominated Violinist Posted on February 25th, 2019 by

Director of Jazz Studies Dave Stamps is pulling out all the stops for the second annual Gustavus Jazz Jamboree to be held March 1 at Gustavus Adolphus College. Now in its second year, the festival has doubled in size and will welcome more than 200 high school students from 10 jazz bands across the state.

Throughout the day, students in each jazz band will perform for a panel of clinicians, participate in a workshop with one of the clinicians, and learn from jazz professionals through masterclasses. The non-competitive nature of this event is one of the things that Stamps says sets it apart from other jazz festivals around the region. “We have lots of opportunities in life to compete,” he says. “Competition can be an amazing thing too. But for this festival, I really wanted the focus to be on the education process. The students just get to learn, play, and have fun within a positive community. I think that’s awesome.”

The day of world-class jazz education for students culminates in an evening performance featuring GRAMMY-nominated jazz violinist Sara Caswell and the Gustavus Jazz Ensemble. Caswell’s diverse resume includes performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club, soloing at Carnegie Hall and performing as part of the house band for NBC’s weekly variety show “Maya & Marty” starring Maya Rudolph and Martin Short.

While some might find jazz and violin an odd pairing, Stamps says this is one of the reasons he invited Caswell. “Sara Caswell is one of today’s greatest jazz improvisers no matter what instrument she plays. To me, it’s even more appealing that she plays an instrument that is not traditionally found in a large jazz ensemble. Let’s encourage as many young people as possible that they too can perform at that amazing level regardless of environmental norms or expectations,” he says.

This year’s festival received grant support from the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation, which allowed the Jamboree to bring performing artists who might not typically perform in the area. The evening performance has become a staple of the event with a goal of welcoming the wider Southern Minnesota community for a free concert featuring some of the best jazz musicians in the country.

The evening concert will be livestreamed and all events during the day (including that evening performance) are free and open to the public. For a detailed itinerary for the day please visit the Gustavus Jazz Jamboree website.

Participating Ensembles:

Brainerd High School – Chris Fogderud, director
Chaska High School – Adam Bestler, director
Cleveland Public School – Erik Hermanson, director
Farmington High School – Erin Holmes and Bradley Mariska, directors
Jordan High School – Logan Burnside, director
New London-Spicer High School – Nicholas Mason, director
Princeton High School – Jim Baxter, director
Rochester Lourdes High School – Nicole Skifton, director
Saint Peter High School – Dave Haugh, director


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