Some of the best-known names in the jazz world will take the stage for University of Idaho’s 2018 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival Feb. 23 and Feb. 24.
Jazz group Joey DeFrancesco + The People were announced in October as the headlining performers for the festival. The group will perform Feb. 24. DeFrancesco, who plays the Hammond organ, is a three-time Grammy nominee.
“He’s an amazing performer — an amazing musician,” said artistic advisor of the festival and UI director of jazz studies Vern Sielert.
Following DeFrancesco’s performance Feb. 24, the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival Big Band will play, Sielert said. He said the band will feature lead trumpet Tanya Darby, an assistant professor at the University of North Texas, and UI jazz instructor Kate Skinner as a vocalist. Sielert said he has written a few tunes for the band to play during the festival.
At the end of the night, DeFrancesco will join the band for a rare combination of the jazz organ and big band sounds, Sielert said.
“It’ll be super loud, and swinging and fun,” he said.
On Feb. 23, alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, trumpeter Terell Stafford and vocalist Brianna Thomas will lead a tribute to the 1961 album “Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley.” The group, put together specifically for the festival, will be revisiting the tunes from the album with a more contemporary view, Sielert said.
“There’s something sort of special about that particular record,” he said.
According to a UI news release, the Lionel Hampton School of Music Jazz Choirs I and II, directed by Dan Bukvich, and Jazz Band I, directed by Sielert, will also perform during the 2018 festival, in addition to solo and combo winners from the festival’s competition.
Bukvich, UI professor of percussion and theory and director of jazz choirs, said UI students become excited to perform and to back up famous jazz musicians.
“You build up to it,” Bukvich said. “It’s a lot of fun, it’s hard work and it’s interesting.”
Sielert said the guest artists, and the festival in general, create an opportunity for the students who come from small communities who don’t normally have the chance to experience great jazz music.
“If you want to be a professional, it’s good to see professionals,” Bukvich said.
The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival has occured for decades, with the 2017 festival doubling as a celebration of the 50th anniversary.
“It’s got a long history in the Northwest,” Bukvich said.
Sielert said student groups from all around the country come to compete during the days of the festival. The students range from elementary school to even a few college groups, he said.
He said his favorite part of the festival is seeing the students’ enthusiasm toward creating and listening to music.
“It creates a pretty exciting couple of days,” he said.
According to a UI news release, evening concerts will be in the Kibbie Dome, and all shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the festival go on sale Nov. 17 and can be purchased at the UI Ticket Office in the Kibbie Dome, by calling 208-885-7212 or online at www.uidaho.edu/ticketoffice.
Jordan Willson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org