January 28, 2014
The sounds of young jazz musicians will heat up the cold weather when nearly 50 high school and junior high school jazz ensembles come to the University of Mary Jan. 31-Feb. 1 for the university's 41st Jazz Festival.
Guest artists and adjudicators this year include Jazz Hall of Fame Trombonist Conrad Herwig, Baise alum Shawn Edmonds, trumpet; Ellington Orchestra's Mark Gross, sax; Champian Fulton, piano and voice; Dion Parson, percussion, and Steve Zegree, voice and piano.
Two public concerts highlighted by the national and international music performers are scheduled in conjunction with the Jazz Festival at Bismarck's Belle Mehus City Auditorium, Sixth Street and Broadway Avenue. The public is invited to hear great jazz at 8 p.m. Jan. 31 and 4 p.m. Feb. 1. Tickets are $10 and are available at Lee's Hallmark, Eckroth Music, or at the door.
The University of Mary's Vocal Jazz group, directed by Tom Porter, and its Jazz Ensemble, directed by Isrea Butler, will perform. Also on the program is Champian Fulton, New York-based jazz vocalist and pianist and founder of the Little Jazz Quintet. An admirer of jazz legends Dinah Washington and Nat King Cole, Fulton has performed at numerous New York jazz venues, including Birdland and Lincoln Center.
Isrea Butler, in his first year as director of Jazz Studies and Low Brass at the University of Mary, has often performed on Broadway and with leading jazz orchestras, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Mingus Big Band, Lionel Hampton, Chico O'Farrill's ALJO and Glenn Miller. He is also principal trombonist for the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra.
"Jazz matters, because it is America's music," Butler said, "the only music created here and admired all over the world." For students, he said, "jazz teaches you how to improvise, how to think on your feet and how to collaborate. Jazz also teaches teamwork, how to discuss, problem-solve, and look outside the box," Butler said.
"And that translates into life," he said.