Famous ‘Big Band’ headlines student festival
Carl J. Bachus | culture editor
Pitt State’s gearing up for a swingin’ time at the 39th Annual PSU Jazz Festival held in the Overman Student Center, McCray Hall and Memorial Auditorium on Friday, March 1. The festival, a Pitt State mainstay since 1974, features a competition of bands from the junior high, high school, and community college levels, alongside two concerts and a performance by the critically acclaimed Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band.
“They’re really the who’s who in New York,” said Bob Kehle, university professor of music and festival coordinator. “A few of them have actually been here before. We’re talking really hot performers.”
The festival lasts all day and will feature performances from student jazz bands from Pittsburg to Kansas City, including Pittsburg High School, Winnetonka High School and Kansas City Kansas Community College, among others.
The student bands will be judged by an array of jazz music educators from around the country, including faculty from Texas State University, Hope College in Michigan and Edison College of Florida.
“They’ll listen to the bands play and then they’ll go up and work with the band for a little bit afterward,” Kehle said. “Then, the groups playing with them get some personal interaction with some music educators.”
The daytime events, including jazz performances on campus and off, are free for everyone while the evening concert is $15 for adults and $10 for PSU faculty and staff and senior citizens.
Kehle’s Jazz One class will perform in two concerts; one at 12:30 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m. The first set will feature a variety of compositions by artists ranging from Sonny Rawlins to Radiohead. The second, however, promises less contemporary fare, such as Duke Ellington’s “Cottontail.”
The headliner, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, will perform following the last Jazz One performance. The veteran musicians will play a medley of compositions from the late great Dizzy Gillespie’s repertoire.
Tickets to see the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band are usually upward of $40. Kehle explained that students should take this opportunity to see them for free, as the entire festival is free of charge to PSU students with valid student IDs.