The SPHS Jazz Ensemble played for a full house at the Cremer Auditorium at the Colonial on Thursday, February 20, 2020. The one hour show featured many big band classics by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Glenn Miller and others. Both musicians and audience members had a great time. It was said that this is the most popular program of the year and it felt like it
On Saturday, February 15, 2020 members of all three HS Jazz Ensembles, parents, volunteers and alumni came together with High School Bands from around the state and clinicians from around the country to participate in the 28th Annual Sun Prairie Jazz Festival - a Regional “Essentially Ellington” festival. The festival is a clinic by day and an awesome concert by night.
Participating bands in the morning received a 1 hour session with a group of three musicians/educators who were able to add their expertise on Reed, Brass, and Rhythm section issues. Throughout the lunch hour, students had the option to participate in a Jam Session followed by instrument specific master classes and jazz improvisation sessions.
The day culminated in an evening public concert featuring one of our guest clinicians performing with selected High School Jazz Ensembles. The last part of the concert was a jazz combo formatted performance featuring the days’ educators.
Reggie Thomas, piano; Clay Jenkins, trumpet and Dennis Mackrel, drum set were all alums of the Count Basie Orchestra. Bob Stewart, jazz tuba and “Essentially Ellington '' clinician has recorded with Charles Mingus and currently teaches Jazz History at the Juilliard Music School in New York. Each of our artists have similar stories. In addition to great musical pedigree, each of our musicians/educators was a genuinely caring teacher and collaborator who shared their passion for jazz with all who attended.
Sponsors of the Jazz Festival are the Sun Prairie Band Boosters, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Birch Creek Music Academy, the Shell Arts Center, and Ward Brodt Music.