Buddy DeFranco Festival: Jazz + inspiration

Top-notch jazz artists teach and perform at University of Montana March 14-15

New & Notable
Jazz Festival: Steve Roach
Trumpeter Steve Roach has been the Director of Jazz Studies at California State University, Sacramento since 2001.

The Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival, March 14-15, at the University of Montana, emphasizes education, improvisation and the jazz language.

On both evenings, experience concerts with festival artists, the High School Best Section Big Band and outstanding soloists from the daytime events. Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. in the UM Dennison Theatre.

The 2019 Festival Artists include Steve Roach (trumpet), Aric Schneller (trombone), and Brian Claxton (drum set), who perform with the UM Jazz Ensemble Thursday; and Matt Harris (piano), Ashley Summers (bass) and Doug Stone (saxophone) who take centerstage Friday with the UM Jazz Ensemble. Artists also perform together both nights as a sextet.

“It will be an honor to have all of the guest artists on campus performing and working with the UM students and the 900 student musicians visiting over the two days,” says Jazz Studies director Rob Tapper. “I’m glad to have all of them back to play, hang and especially inspire.

The fun and learning continue each day with clinics, ensemble critiques, workshops, open rehearsals and master classes with guest artists, local musicians, and faculty from the University of Montana.

“This year will be my seventh year producing this festival and the UM students have really taken an incredible ownership in how this is presented, both musically and for the visiting 52 groups on campus over the two days,” says Tapper. “I appreciate and am grateful to the community for their generosity and support.”

The annual event is hosted by the University of Montana College of Visual and Performing Arts in conjunction with the School of Music.

Thursday’s Featured Artists

Trumpeter Steve Roach has been the Director of Jazz Studies at California State University, Sacramento since 2001. He has also served as Director of Jazz Studies at Baylor University and has held teaching positions at the University of Northern Colorado and Northern Illinois University. Professional appearances include studio and live sessions with such jazz and pop musicians as Tito Puente, Louis Bellson, Lou Rawls, Ben Vereen, Roberta Flack, Rosemary Clooney, Paquito D’Rivera, The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, The Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey Orchestras, and others.

Aric Schneller, trombone, is now in his 11th year as director of Jazz Studies at Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, where he directs the Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab Band, teaches jazz improvisation, keyboard skills, and arranging, and directs the annual SHSU Bill Watrous Jazz Festival. He’s also a member of the Houston Jazz Orchestra as third trombonist, jazz soloist, vocalist, composer and arranger. Originally from Missoula, the former operatic tenor has sung professionally with the Ohio Light Opera Co., the Boston Lyric Opera Co., and the del’ Arte Opera Ensemble of New York City.


Jazz Festival: Brian Caxton
Brian Claxton is an award-winning drummer, composer and multi-instrumentalist, is known for his electrifying groove and rhythmic mastery.

Brian Claxton, an award-winning drummer, composer and multi-instrumentalist, is known for his electrifying groove and rhythmic mastery.  His diverse background includes touring internationally with jazz piano legend Monty Alexander and performing alongside Donny McCaslin, Chris Potter, Christian McBride, Dave Douglas, Randy Brecker, Nicholas Payton, and many others. A passionate student of the history of American music, Claxton has developed a musical voice that is as diverse as his performance experience. He has released three records as a co-leader and has appeared on over 30 others. Claxton teaches at the University of Northern Colorado, and the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire.

Friday’s Featured Artists

Pianist Matt Harris is co-director of Jazz Studies at California State University Northridge, and is a current faculty member at Yellowstone and Idyllwild Arts summer jazz camps. He is vice president for California Alliance for Jazz (CAJ) and a national panelist for Young Arts based in Miami. He’s toured, written, and recorded with jazz legends Maynard Ferguson and Buddy Rich; recorded six CD’s of original music including two trio CDs, Snap Crackle and Bellavino Blues. In addition to playing with an array of famous jazz artists, he’s played piano and/or written music for some of today’s top jazz vocalists including Karyn Allison, Diane Shure, Dena Derose, and Kurt Elling.

Bassist Ashley Summers is a Canadian-born, Chicago-based artist whose talents have brought her to stages all over the world.  Known for a lyrical style punctuated by a sinewy impetuousness, Summers’s artistic perspective has a striking sincerity that is both invigorating and nostalgic. In 2017, Summers was named “top of the class in new, Canadian Jazz” as one of the top “35 Under 35 Canadian Jazz Artists” by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Summers has brought her “glorious tone that pours forth passion and groove” (Jazzreview.com, 2010) to the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Umbria Jazz Festival, and Jazz a Vienne.  She has also toured venues across the U.S., from concert halls like the Kennedy Center for the Arts to Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn and the Lilypad in Boston.

Saxophonist Doug Stone’s career has involved work as a touring musician, primarily with jazz trumpet legend Maynard Ferguson and his band, the Big Bop Nouveau, as well as with the “world-jazz” group Panoramic, and with a number of ensembles from Chicago. His time on the road has taken him to virtually every corner of the United States as well as Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, and Canada. In 2012 he became director of jazz ensembles at the Rochester School of the Arts (SOTA) in Rochester, New York, and recently accepted a post as Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at Louisiana State University.

Tickets are $10/night or $15 combo for students; $15/night or $25 combo for seniors; and $25/night or $40 for both shows for the general public. Call 243-4051 or visit griztix.com.