Every year during the cold month of February, musicians, students, community members and visitors unite through their love of music and the spirit of jazz. This year, the University of Idaho’s 46th annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival aims to “Inspire Futures Through Jazz” with an array of talented musicians, unique workshops and entertaining performances.
From Wednesday to Saturday, UI and the Moscow community will be buzzing with artists and visitors of all ages. Lionel Hampton Executive Director Steven Remington said the Jazz Fest requires about 400 volunteers and has a budget of a little less than $1 million, most of which comes from school registration fees, as well as ticket sales, donations, sponsorships, advertising and merchandise.
To help support local businesses with incoming Jazz Fest traffic, Remington said they started using Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival buttons last year. The buttons sport this year’s Jazz Fest design and logo, cost $3, and allows the purchaser to receive discounts at more than 30 local businesses. Lionel Hampton Marketing and Development Director James Brownson said some workshops will require buttons.
“The pins are really about the businesses, who are reporting that the buttons are being used,” Remington said. “It’s something so the businesses can feel like they’re participating in the Jazz Festival, but doesn’t require them to listen to jazz.”
To connect local businesses with the musicians, Remington said after-hour performances are scheduled at various restaurants and cafes from 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
Musician performance events
It’s the job of Lionel Hampton Art Director John Clayton to come up with the overall look and feel of the festival. This year’s theme, “Inspiring Futures Through Jazz,” is comprised of 16 talented musicians who have traveled from all around the world to perform. Music performances start around 8 p.m. and go until around midnight.
“We really have great performers and are all amazing musicians,” Remington said.
During the main concerts at night the artists will perform various songs together, despite not having rehearsed together prior to attending Jazz Fest, Remington said.
“They’re professionals. They can come and play together without much rehearsal. They get the music about two weeks ahead of time, and might rehearse it a little bit, but besides the rehearsal when the get here, they practice on-stage, all night long,” Remington said.
This year, Remington said roughly 3,870 students from 148 schools will travel to Moscow to learn and participate in Jazz Fest. Since some high schools require students to go to workshops, Remington said they wanted to take advantage of the recruiting opportunity and discuss options for providing different workshops. This year, 62 workshops are available from several different departments and colleges.
“One thing that has changed is we are offering more workshops from other departments on campus such as Engineering, College of Natural Resources, Art and Architecture, Physics and Math, Business and even one from the Idaho Law School,” Remington said.
Remington said although the workshops are from different colleges, they all tie back to a unified, jazz theme.
“For example, the CNR are bringing in luthiers’–instrument builders, guitar makers, and they’ll talk about how
they select the hardwoods. Now, they are using all sorts of different kinds of woods that are more exotic, instead of the traditional, spruce, mahogany, etc.”
However, visiting schools are not the only students participating in the Jazz Fest. UI jazz band one and two are also performing at this year’s festival. Brownson said jazz band one and two are playing Saturday.
“Wednesday night, on the main stage, jazz band one are backing up Byron Stripling,” Brownson said. “Which is a great opportunity for them, and it’s good for us too.”
Both jazz bands aren’t the only music students who get involved at the festival. Remington said the percussion students do all the resets and are basically their equipment crews.
Jazz in the schools
Although Jazz Fest takes place in Moscow, the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival provides jazz education and music exposure to regional K-12 schools, which continues to be a success.
“Jazz in the Schools has been expanded to two days,” Remington said. “We can’t expand anymore. We don’t have any more notches in our belt to expand.”
Unsure of exact numbers, Remington said last year the artists visited about 40 schools and 7,000 students. This year, Remington said, Moscow High School will benefit with visits from all the performers.
“Moscow High, along with Asotin High School, also participate in Wednesday initiatives, where they will have a personalized, 90- minute clinic with some of our top clinicians, and will also get a 90 minute workshop with Byron Stripling,” Remington said. “This isn’t something we do every year (for Moscow,) but this year Moscow and Asotin High Schools get to be the recipients of it.”
Remington said it’s hard to expand Jazz in the Schools because in today’s music industry, the artists can usually only come here, do the performance and then they have to leave. He also said since Moscow is a remote area, it’s hard to get here, and that travel is hard on the musicians.
As a result of the high inflation of visitors and extra traffic coming to Jazz Fest, various streets and parking lots will be restricted Wednesday through Saturday.
Deakin Avenue, which runs in front of the Student Union Building, will be changed into a one-way street going south from Sixth Street to University Avenue between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
The U.S. Post Office and VandalStore will only be accessible from the streets behind the buildings, College and Railroad Avenues. Lastly, on Friday the SMART transit buses and Vandal Access Shuttle will only be stopping on Railroad Street at the Intermodal Transit Center.
Various sections of SUB parking, as well as parking at the Kibbie Dome, will be altered or closed during the festival days.
Michelle Gregg can be reached at email@example.com