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MU Jazz Fest to feature Airmen of Note

Jan. 30, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Airmen of Note, considered the premier jazz ensemble of the U.S. Air Force, will headline the 44th annual Marshall University Jazz Festival, which begins Thursday, Jan. 31, and continues through Saturday, Feb. 2.

Performances will take place at 7 p.m. each evening in the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Admission to the concerts will be free; however, tickets are required and can be picked up the nights of the performances at the Joan C. Edwards box office.

The festival begins Thursday evening with a performance by this year's high school honor ensemble, The Patriot, from Parkersburg South High School, under the direction of Eric Staats.

Afterward there will be a performance by Marshall University student combos.

Staats, the director of bands at Parkersburg South High School and a Marshall alumnus, said the jazz ensemble is one of two auditioned jazz bands at Parkersburg South.

"The band has 23 members who range in grade level from 9 through 12," Staats said. "These students are intensely motivated musicians who choose to study their craft in greater depth. They were also featured performers at the Universal Studios, Orlando, 'STARS' performance series in 2012 and were used in the theme park's marketing/publicity materials."

The Marshall University Alumni Big Band will perform Friday night, followed by Marshall University 12.0 and guest artists. The alumni band is an ensemble spanning four decades, made up of many musicians who studied jazz at Marshall. The ensemble is being led by alumnus and Marshall adjunct professor Jeff Wolfe.

Saturday night will feature a performance by the Thundering Herd All-Star Band and the featured guests, Airmen of Note. The Thundering Herd All-Star Band is a group of select high school musicians who come together in a jazz ensemble, working over the period of a few days to perform a concert, Parsons said. This year's band features students from six different high schools and will be led by Steve Roberts, director of jazz at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

According to their website, the Airmen of Note were created in 1950 to carry on the tradition of Maj. Glenn Miller's Army Air Corps dance band. Today the "Note" features 18 of the most talented jazz musicians in the country and is one of the last touring big bands. As a result, it has earned an international reputation as one of the finest and most versatile big bands of its kind in the world.

The 44th annual Marshall University Jazz Festival is in memory of trombonist Jim Groscup, a Marshall alumnus and active member of the musical community.

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