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52 years strong Jazz: Students help with the festival's work.

Byline: Ann Piccininni Daily Herald correspondent

Before Elmhurst College's 52nd annual Jazz Festival even gets started Thursday, students in two Hinsdale schools will get up-close tutoring in the art of musicianship from a master of the genre.

Saxophonist Bill Evans will jam with students Wednesday at Hinsdale Middle School and Hinsdale Central High School.

"Bill Evans actually grew up in Hinsdale. He's gone on to have a pretty famous career with Miles Davis," said Doug Beach, festival director and director of the college's jazz studies and jazz band.

Beach said it's been 29 years since Evans made his one previous appearance at the festival. This time around, he'll serve as a judge and be a featured performer on Thursday night, along with the Elmhurst College Jazz Band.

"It's sort of a master class situation. He came out of the same seats that these kids are in now," Beach said. "It's kind of a cool little twist."

Big name jazz stars will perform each evening at the festival while high school and college jazz bands will perform in invitational competitions during the day.

Evans will be joined onstage about 4:30 p.m. Thursday by trumpeter Randy Brecker, making his second festival appearance, and guitarist Mike Stern, who also played with Miles Davis and is making his festival debut.

Friday night's featured performers are Mike Davis and the Hip-Bone Big Band, followed Saturday night by the John Fedchock New York Big Band.

"These two bands are made up of some of the best musicians in New York," Beach said.

Student performances fill out the daytime schedules.

"We do five high school bands on Thursday and the collegiate thing starts late Friday morning," Beach said.

Illinois high schools bands will include Metea Valley, Oswego and St. Charles North. The Wauwatosa West band from Wisconsin and Portage High School band from Indiana also will compete.

College bands will travel to the festival from Arkansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio and other parts of Illinois.

Performances will be judged by Evans, Brecker and Stern. Those three musicians will join the Elmhurst College Jazz Band and the college ensembles for the festival's final performance at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

"All three of these guys are pretty much legendary musicians," Beach said.

While festival competition is lively, Beach said these days there is more of an emphasis on learning and emulating the greats.

"We really shifted the focus

to education," he said.

Guided by Beach, who has been heading up the festival for nearly three decades, the festival is presented with the help of students, including two managers who take care of ticketing, security, stage crew and transportation to bring audiences a great show.

"It's all open to the public. I encourage people to come," Beach said. "The level of the college groups should be exceptional. The level of professional entertainment will be exceptional."

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Title Annotation:Neighbor
Author:Piccininni, By Ann
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Feb 18, 2019
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