The 40th annual Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival, slated for March 12-13 at the University of Montana in Missoula, was cancelled Thursday, due to concerns about spreading COVID-19. Also cancelled were the final productions of Spring Awakening in the UM Montana Theatre.
“While it was a difficult decision to cancel the Buddy DeFranco Concert, a long-standing and much-beloved event, administrators are working to act in the best interest of the UM and Missoula community,” said John DeBoer, interim dean for the College of Arts and Media.
“Under the guidance of both the governor and the commissioner of higher education, all Montana University System campuses have been directed to limit events hosted on campus,” he added.
Information regarding refunds can be found by contacting the box office at (406) 243-4581.
“It is important to note that the ticket fees are critical in supporting our programs and arts education,” DeBoer said in a news release.
The festival celebrates the language of jazz with two days devoted to education, improvisation and performance. New York City-based drummer Allison Miller – dubbed a “modern jazz icon in the making” – was on this year’s roster of guest artists.
Students gather each day for clinics, ensemble critiques, workshops, open rehearsals and master classes with guest artists, local musicians, and faculty from the University of Montana. Guest artists and top student ensembles take the spotlight for evening concerts, 7:30 p.m. at the UM Dennison Theatre.
The 2020 Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival artists included Miller (drum set), Laura Caviani (piano) and Nate Kimball (trombone), on Thursday; and Peter Sommer (saxophone), Chris Finet (bass) and Jim Sisko (trumpet) on Friday. On both evenings, the High School Best Section Big Band and outstanding soloists from the daytime events also take the stage.
Buddy DeFranco festival concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $10/night or $15 combo for students; $15/night or $25 combo for seniors; and $25/night or $40 for both shows, general admission.
Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival guest artists: Thursday
NYC-based drummer/composer/teacher Allison Miller engages her deep roots in improvisation as a vehicle to explore all forms of music. Miller won Downbeat magazine’s 67th Annual Critics Poll for “Rising Star Drummer” and JazzTimes magazine’s Critics Poll.
Her composition, “Otis Was a Polar Bear,” is included on NPR’s list of The 200 Greatest Songs by 21st Century Women. She is also the first recipient of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation’s Commissioning Grant.
Miller’s band, Boom Tic Boom, celebrated its 10th anniversary with the release of a fifth album, Glitter Wolf, which was included in many “Best Jazz Of 2019” lists, including those of NPR, Rolling Stone, Paste, JazzTimes, and Bandcamp.
She teaches at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Stanford Jazz Workshop, Centrum and the Geri Allen Jazz Camp, and is the artistic director of Jazz Camp West.
“As we enter a new decade, there is no more important figure in jazz than Allison Miller.” (Paste Magazine)
Pianist Laura Caviani has performed and recorded for over 15 years. The Minneapolis Star Tribune hailed her debut CD, Dreamlife, as “outstanding” and Marian McPartland called it “… sparkling and inventive.”
Going There, her fifth recording as a leader, is already receiving wide praise. Bob Protzman, Downbeat contributor and WQLN-FM host called it “piano trio jazz of the highest order.”
Caviani has recorded and toured with the 2002 Grammy nominee Karrin Allyson and shared the stage with other greats including Toots Theilemans, Bob Mintzer and Dave Liebman.
A.S.C.A.P Award-winning composer, trombonist and educator Nate Kimball is a graduate of the Downbeat Award-winning University of Nevada Las Vegas Jazz Program with a master’s in jazz composition. The Las Vegas native currently performs full time as the trombonist and assistant musical director with Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity at the New York New York Hotel and Casino.
Kimball currently teaches as an adjunct professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; is a paraprofessional clinician at the Las Vegas Academy of Performing Arts High School; and serves as the program director of the School of Jazz at the Nevada School of the Arts.
Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival guest artists: Friday
Saxophonist Peter Sommer has contributed his energetic and graceful playing and creative spirit to a wide variety of musical projects, ranging from mainstream bebop to classic and contemporary concert music to avant-garde improvisations at venues across the nation and around the world.
Sommer has released five albums as a leader. His latest, Happy-Go-Lucky Locals (2017), features his Colorado-based septet of Front Range jazz masters playing original arrangements and compositions inspired by legends of the art form. He is also active as a concert saxophonist, performing recitals of newly commissioned pieces and masterworks both regionally and abroad.
Sommer is associate professor of saxophone and jazz studies at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO., and serves as the Woodwind Area Coordinator for the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.
Chris Finet, director of jazz studies and bass professor at Northern Arizona University, plays regularly with many of the state’s top jazz artists and has also performed with jazz luminaries such as Jerry Bergonzi, Roy Hargrove, Dave Douglas, John Tchicai, Irvin Mayfield, and many others. He’s in demand in the theater and commercial music worlds, playing for numerous Broadway touring productions, backing entertainers such as Don RIckles and Joan Rivers, and adding his bass to commercial productions such as the Latin Grammy Awards, Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience, and more. As a classical musician Finet is the principal bassist of the Flagstaff Symphony and performs often with the Phoenix Symphony, Arizona Opera, and freelance orchestras throughout Arizona.
After spending a number of years away from the Seattle jazz scene, trumpeter and bandleader Jim Sisko returned to his home state. He spent 14 months touring Japan, Europe, Central America and the U.S. as a featured soloist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Sisko can be heard in many Seattle groups heads his own quintet.
He’s also a sought-after teacher, and performs across the Northwest. The Jim Sisko Quintet has been featured at countless festivals and concert venues, including the Port Townsend Jazz Festival, Bumbershoot, The Art of Jazz Series and Jazz Under the Stars. In addition to his stint with The Glenn Miller Orchestra, he’s performed with Natalie Cole, Barry Manilow, The Manhattan Transfer, and the rock band Yes, to name a few.
Sisko has served as a camp director for jazz camps across the Northwest and is currently director of the Shoreline Jazz Camp. He’s currently director of the instrumental music program at Bellevue College and directs the award-winning Bellevue College Jazz Bands.