| 03.17.2018

Jazzing up the Palouse


Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival tickets now on sale for general public

University of Idaho alumnus and trumpet performance major Kyle Gemberling grew up in Moscow and has attended the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival since fourth grade — often times as a student performer.

“I had a lot of fantastic experiences performing at the festival in school groups as well as vocal and trumpet solo performances,” he said.

Although Gemberling cannot make this year’s festival, he thinks it will be a good show. The festival will run from Feb. 25-28 and tickets are now available to purchase and range from $20 to $50 per night.

Gemberling said although the ticket prices may seem a little steep, the value of the jazz artists justifies the cost to see them perform.

“It’s hard for me to shake my head at the prices at the jazz festival, especially considering the caliber of the performers coming through Moscow every February,” Gembering said. “For students who are struggling with minimal funds, that makes it tough to justify, but when you’ve got some slick musicians in town, it’s hard to say no.”

According to Steven Remington, associate director of the festival, festivities begin with saxophonists Grace Kelly and Jeff Coffin, the All-Star Quartet, vibraphonist Stefon Harris and the Lionel Hampton School of Music Jazz Band 1 directed by UI Professor Vern Sielert.

The second day of the festival will encompass a dance-based event complete with an appearance from the Swing Devils of the Palouse. The Pitman Center will be alive with the sounds of Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, Bria Skonberg, and the All-Star Quartet. Other performances that Thursday include Holly Hoffman’s Flutology and the U.S. Air Force’s Airmen of Note, he said.

Friday will include performances from saxophonist Christine Jensen and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, as well as four-time Grammy award winner Dianne Reeves and her band.

The last day of the historic festival, Remington said, will conclude with the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival Big Band featuring return appearances from Stefon Harris and Dianne Reeves.

Remington said the festival began in 1967 as a celebration of the heritage of jazz music, and is named after the American jazz icon Lionel Hampton. In the years after 2005, the festival seemed to have hit its peak and began to feel the effects of a changing music scene, he said.

A combination of the recession and changes in the music industry resulted in a loss of interest from local band directors who traditionally brought students to experience the festival. That’s when Remington said he became executive director of the festival, and used his background in marketing, administration and logistical planning to help restore the festival back to its previous glory.

One of his efforts was to put a larger emphasis on the educational opportunities that arise from bringing such large numbers of young students to UI. While a large part of the festival is the actual performances, workshops hosted by musicians and other professionals are also a notable attraction, he said.

Remington said the festival has become a staple event in the Pacific Northwest. On a more local level, the event is one of the major annual happenings in Moscow.

Gemberling believes what makes the Jazz Fest special is the way it enriches the community as a whole.

“It’s a very cool experience to have Moscow become so active and alive for that weekend,” Gemberling said.

Remington agreed and said the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival is an important event because of the identity it provides the university and the community.

“That’s what these festivals do – they reinforce that sense of place,” he said.

Lyndsie Kiebert can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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