53rd annual Tarleton Jazz Festival to feature trombonist Wycliffe Gordon


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STEPHENVILLE (March 19, 2015) — Wycliffe Gordon, one of the top trombonists of his generation, will serve as this year’s featured guest artist with student jazz musicians as part of the 53rd annual Tarleton Jazz Festival on Saturday, March 21.

The closing concert of the festival, at 7:30 p.m., will feature Gordon and the Tarleton State University Jazz Ensembles under the direction of Greg Ball, in the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center Auditorium. Admission to the concert is $10 for adults or free with a Tarleton ID. The box office will open one hour prior to the performance and all seating is general admission.

“I first became aware of Wycliffe Gordon through his work with Wynton Marsalis, both his combo and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra,” said Ball, assistant professor of jazz. “He has become one of jazz’s most popular trombonists and musicians in general.”

Appearing on the cover of the October 2014 issue of Downbeat, Gordon has been at the top of that magazine’s readers’ and critics’ polls for the last several years. In addition to trombone, he plays trumpet and tuba and sings. His most recent recordings celebrate the works of Louis Armstrong.

Ball said he witnessed Gordon’s work with the Texas All-State Jazz Band in prior years and has been attempting to book an appearance at Tarleton ever since. “We are very excited to have such a renowned musician on campus interacting with our students. Mr. Gordon is a crowd pleasing performer and it will be a show you will not want to miss!  Join us for the festival and stick around for the evening performance of Wycliffe Gordon and the Tarleton Jazz Ensemble!”

Gordon, musical ambassador and interpreter of America’s music, has experienced an impressive career touring the world, performing hard-swinging, straight-ahead jazz and receiving great acclaim from audiences and critics alike. His unmatched modern mastery of the plunger mute, and his exceptional technique and signature sound, have solidified Gordon a place in musical history known as one of the top trombonists of his generation, critics agree.

Gordon was named “Best in Trombone” by the Downbeat critics’ poll three years running  (2014, 2013 and 2012) and Jazz Journalists Association named him “Trombonist of the Year” in 2013, as well as previously in 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012. He is a past recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Vanguard Award, among other honors.

Every year since 1962 the university has hosted the Tarleton Jazz Festival, a one-day event that is designed for high school and junior high groups to perform for and work with renowned jazz educators and to hear guest artists. Previous guest artists include the Count Basie Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson, Bob Mintzer, David “Fathead” Newman, Rufus Reid and Maria Schneider, Jeff Coffin of Dave Matthews Band, and the 2014 guest artist Jon Faddis.

“The festival is designed to give students in-depth exposure to all aspects of jazz,” Ball said. “The bands will perform on our stages for several jazz educators who will provide written comments. Following their performances, the groups will work with one of the clinicians, receiving immediate feedback on positive aspects, and help in those areas that need it.”

Awards will be given to outstanding bands in all classifications and outstanding musicians/soloists in each group at the conclusion of the festival.

All Jazz Festival events during the day are open to the public and admission is free, except for the evening concert.

Gordon is one of Americaʼs most persuasive and committed music educators, and has served as Artist-in-Residence at Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Ga., since 2014. This three-year appointment has Gordon developing a jazz studies program as well as teaching courses and working with music majors. In addition, he serves on the faculty of the Jazz Arts Program at Manhattan School of Music and continues as Music Director for the LALPC (Louis Armstrong Legacy Project) in Chicago.

In addition to a successful solo career, Gordon tours regularly leading the Wycliffe Gordon Quartet, headlining at legendary jazz venues and performing arts centers throughout the world. A former veteran member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet and Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, he was a featured guest artist on Billy Taylor’s “Jazz at the Kennedy Center” Series.

Gordonʼs extensive performance experience includes work with many renowned jazz performers, past and present. His “Jazz a la Carte” show, which debuted at the Apollo Theater, was named one of the “top five best moments in jazz” for 2011 by The Wall Street Journal.

Gordonʼs recordings are a model of consistency and inspiration, and his expertise has been captured on numerous recordings, including 16 solo CDs and seven co-leader CDs. His most recent releases, “Hello Pops, A Tribute to Louis Armstrong” and “Dreams of New Orleans” continue to receive rave reviews. Both albums pay homage to Wycliffe’s musical hero. In 2013 Criss Cross Jazz released “The Intimate Ellington: Ballads and Blues,” which showcases Wycliffe’s vast knowledge of Ellington and Strayhorn techniques.

A gifted composer and arranger, he is commissioned frequently by jazz groups and organizations, and has an extensive catalog of compositions that span the timbres of jazz and chamber music. Musicians and ensembles of every caliber perform his music throughout the world, and his arrangement of the theme song to NPR’s “All Things Considered” is heard daily across the globe.

His songbook, “This Rhythm On My Mind,” with accompanying CD, was released in 2012 and “Sing It First”—Wycliffe’s unique approach to playing the instrument, was released in 2011. He continues to publish his original music, and his lead sheets, trombone music and big band charts are all available on his website. His work with young musicians and audiences from elementary schools to universities all over the world is extensive, and includes master classes, clinics, workshops, children’s concerts and lectures — evidence of his ability to relate musically to people of all ages.

For more information, visit http://www.tarleton.edu/band/camps/jazz_festival.html.

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