Music students from regional high schools, West Virginia University and Glenville State College will be in Harrison County on Friday and Saturday, April 21-22 for the first College Jazz Weekend, organized by the West Virginia Jazz Society with major sponsorship from the Barbara Highland Fund for the Arts.
The weekend activity is structured as a work/study opportunity for college student ensembles performing in commercial venues on Friday evening in Clarksburg, and as opening entertainment for a Saturday night concert in Bridgeport.
The Friday evening event is billed as “WVU Jazz Night in Clarksburg” when two student ensembles from West Virginia University will perform in separate venues.
The “Blue Ensemble” will be in My Mother’s Daughter, located at 318 Main Street, and the “Gold Ensemble” will be in Washington Square at 216 Washington Avenue, both in uptown Clarksburg’s business district. Performances on Friday, April 21st are scheduled for 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. with no admission charge.
Dr. Keith Jackson, Director of WVU’s School of Music, believes that projects involving community based arts groups and other schools are beneficial to all students.
“Having WVU’s jazz program join forces with the West Virginia Jazz Society, Glenville State College and Dr. Monika Herzig not only improves the education for students in our region but also raises the bar for the quality of jazz in North Central West Virginia,” said Jackson.
The lineup for The Gold is Michael Jones (piano), Josh Dickey (clarinet), Tanner Petri (sax), Conner Nevin (guitar), Allison L’Ecuyer (bass), and Wes Greer (drums). They will be accompanied by WVU Director of Jazz Program, Dr. Jared Sims.
The lineup for The Blue is Collin Faulkenberry (guitar), Tanner Davis (sax), Ben Busch (sax), Khalid Gray (trombone), Ben Barrish (bass), and Eric Cappellini (drums). They will be accompanied by Jackson.
WVU freshman and guitarist Connor Nevin has been studying jazz since he was a freshman in high school. He is happy to have the opportunity to play for jazz fans and to also be able to study with the touring professionals he meets at live jazz events.
“I’m looking forward to playing in Clarksburg because it’s an opportunity to play for people specifically coming out to hear jazz,” the young guitarist explained. “Getting to hear and learn from the guest artists the West Virginia Jazz Society brings in is also a very valuable experience for young jazz musicians.”
On Saturday afternoon, the college students will be joined by high school students in the Bridgeport Conference Center (BCC) for the West Virginia Jazz Scholars Academy which provides mentoring and instruction by professional touring musicians, usually ones booked to play local dates.
Instruction for the students has been designed by Dr. Monika Herzig of Indiana University, Dr. Jared Sims of WVU, and Professor Jason Barr of Glenville State College. Support for the training is funded in part by a Community Arts Program grant from the Harrison Cultural Foundation with additional support from the Dominion Foundation.
On Saturday evening, the Glenville State College Jazz Combo will open for Dr. Herzig’s ensemble, ‘Whole World In Her Hands’, in Jazz at Charles Pointe, the “pop up” jazz nightclub inside the BCC. Members of WWIHH will participate as instructors and mentors for the Jazz Scholars Academy.
Mentoring for the high school students will be provided by Seth Maynard, an adjunct professor for West Virginia Wesleyan’s jazz program, and Reggie Watkins, also on Wesleyan’s adjunct faculty. Watkins’ extensive performance resume includes a stint as the legendary Maynard Ferguson’s arranger.
Maynard and Watkins will act as guides for high school students, “shadowing” them as they matriculate through the day’s events, including conducting sound checks, organizing rehearsals, and practicing strategic communications and effective public relations.
For information or to reserve seats for the Friday evening shows, call Washington square at 304-622-7100, or My Mother’s Daughter at 304-623-0644. Doors open for dining and music at 6 p.m. in Jazz at Charles Pointe on Saturday evening, with featured performance beginning at 7 p.m.
For more information on the West Virginia Jazz Scholars Academy and how high school and college students may participate, contact Eric Spelsberg at 304-517-9813 or email WVJazzScholars@WVJazzSociety.com.