Jazz Celebration Weekend kicks off tonight

Jake Cihla

Starting today, the Conservatory, in collaboration with Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, will host the 28th annual Lawrence Jazz Celebration Weekend. Opening the weekend with their performance Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the chapel is the Grammy Award-winning vocal group New York Voices.
This group, consisting of two men and two women, was founded in 1987 in the tradition of the great vocalese groups that came before, such as Manhattan Transfer and Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross — Jon Hendricks was a performer at the 2006 Jazz Weekend.
Anyone familiar with NYV will expound upon their intricate harmonies, their razor-sharp precision and their incredible sound, both as individuals and as a group.
Director of Jazz Studies Fred Sturm calls NYV “the best vocal jazz in the world today; they sing like a sax section and they stick by their jazz roots.”
Opening for New York Voices will be the Lawrence University Jazz Singers directed by Phillip Swan, accompanied by vocalist/visiting clinician Kelly Eisenhour and Lawrence faculty jazz pianist Lee Tomboulian.
Saturday night’s concert will feature trumpet player Ingrid Jensen with the Lawrence Faculty Jazz Quartet and Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble.
Jensen, a 1989 graduate of Berklee, can frequently be found performing with Maria Schneider’s orchestra.
Jensen is “unique in that she has risen to the top of the traditionally male-dominated field of jazz trumpet,” said Sturm. “Listeners will find that Jensen’s playing has artful melodic, harmonic and rhythmic awareness, incredible technique, and a beautiful sound on both flugelhorn and trumpet.”
Traditionally, when artists visit Lawrence, they bring their own material with them and LUJE or the faculty jazz trio will accommodate them. Jensen’s set with LUJE is unique in that Jensen asked Sturm what he would like to do with her as a guest soloist with LUJE. Jensen along with LUJE will be playing several original tunes that have been arranged by Sturm.
In addition, faculty member Patty Darling has arranged several tunes by Maria Schneider for the concert and Schneider collaborator Ryan Truesdell has also composed a new piece for the concert. Finally, concertgoers will once again be treated to Dean Pertl on didgeridoo joining Jensen and LUJE for a number.
In addition to the headlining performances, the Conservatory will be host to over 50 ensembles and 700 musicians from surrounding high schools, who will be participating in numerous workshops led by clinicians from all over the country.
Furthermore, there will be numerous opportunities to hear the other ensembles of the jazz department Saturday. Saturday morning 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. will feature the six Lawrence jazz combos at the coffeehouse.
After that will be the Lawrence Jazz Workshop in Riverview 12-1:30 p.m. followed by the Lawrence Jazz Band in the chapel performing with the clinicians.
All of the afternoon events are free, but the evening concerts in the chapel require tickets purchased in advance. Tickets for both concerts are available through the Lawrence University Box Office at (920) 832-6749. Ticket prices are $20-22 for adults, $17-19 for seniors and $15-17 for students.