Athens, Ga. – Visitors to the annual Twilight Criterium bicycle races in downtown Athens will get have a second chance to get jazzed up April 24-26.
The 1st Annual UGA/Athens Twilight Jazz Festival will bring top national artists and local players onstage in what organizers are billing as “an instrument of outreach and service to the community and region.”
Sponsored by the UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music, in partnership with the Athens Twilight Criterium and the Melting Point/Foundry Park Inn & Spa, the festival will combine and revive two jazz festival traditions in Athens: the UGA Jazz Festival of Champions organized by late UGA Director of Bands Roger Dancz and the Athens Jazz Festival held in conjunction with the Twilight Criterium for many years.
The festival will be headlined by The Joshua Redman Trio, which will perform Saturday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. in Hodgson Hall of the UGA Performing Arts Center. The son of famed American tenor saxophone player Dewey Redman, sax-player Joshua Redman won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition and has recorded with notable jazz artists Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden, Christian McBride, Brad Mehldau and Brian Blade among others. Opening for the Redman Trio is French chanteuse Ilona Knopfler. Tickets are $35 and are available by calling 706/540-0042.
Jazz music during the festival, however, will be free to the public on the Twilight Outdoor Stage in downtown Athens. Auditioned groups from the festival participants will play there, including local jazz groups and the Festival All-Star Band made up of top clinicians. The Melting Point, a concert venue located in the Foundry Park Inn & Spa, will host the festival jam sessions, open to all, $10 at the door, on both Friday and Saturday nights. The house band will be Prime Time Jazz, which features local musicians Jim McKillip on piano, Tony McCutchen on drums and Chris Enghauser playing bass.
The festival builds on recent successful jazz events and opportunities for Athenians and UGA students, most notably the residencies featuring jazz legend Dave Brubeck and his associate Russell Gloyd as well as Darmon Meader of the New York Voices. It also focuses attention on the UGA Jazz Band’s invitation to perform in China in late March and early April and on several regional performances by the Classic City Jazz, a small vocal jazz ensemble selected by audition, which sings standards as well as new compositions and arrangements.
This two-day educational festival will serve middle schools, high schools, colleges and community groups in the region providing clinics and workshops for jazz big bands, jazz combos, vocal jazz groups and vocal soloists. The festival features 12 clinicians from around the country who are well-known in performance and pedagogy areas of their respective fields.
“Currently, there is no other comparable jazz festival in the state of Georgia that combines the educational and community elements and is open to both vocal and instrumental groups,” said Mitos Andaya, festival co-director and associate director of choral activities at the music school. “The University of Georgia has the opportunity to fill this niche.”
For more information about the UGA/Athens Twilight Jazz Festival, see www.uga.edu/music/jazzfestival.