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And All That Jazz

Saturday, local students were given the opportunity to attend Missouri Western’s 11th Annual Jazz Festival and receive tips on how to become better musicians. The festival gave students the chance to play as a group and to be given constructive critiques of their performances. Students from Benton, Central, and Raytown played in Blum Union for the public, free of cost.

Members of the Music Department Faculty had trombone, saxophone, trumpet and many other clinics throughout the morning. The end of the Jazz Festival featured the Missouri Western Jazz Ensemble and the judges playing a short concert.
Bob Long, Director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Saxophone, started the Jazz Festival to encourage young students to visit campus as well as be a source of musical education to the public.
“What’ll first happen is the band will warm up and then they will play,” Long said. “Then the judges will talk with them about improvisational technique, they’ll talk about style – anything to help the band become better. They will work with the students, they will play with the students, they will ask the students to play a little bit for them and give them some ideas on how they should sound.”
“Jazz is a unique American art form. It’s music that was totally formed here, in the United States. It’s a relatively young music if you look at the history of it. [Jazz] best reflects society and how our country was built. The music itself is a melding of various styles as well as it reflects our country as a melting pot of culture. That’s why Jazz is such a valuable art form for our country,” Long said.

Jack Malo, President of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, had helped coordinate the Jazz Festival along with the other members of the fraternity. Sinfonia has helped sponsor the Jazz Festival since it began 11 years ago.

“Some of our members help out with the kids, some of our members escort people within the buildings. We move all the tables, all the chairs. We take care of the judges, ask them if they need anything. We basically run the event and do all the administrative work along with our adviser Bob Long,” Malo said. “Jazz Fest is non-competitive. We don’t do ‘first best band and second best band,’ they just come in and they get help. Professionals who have been around a little bit longer are able to give back to the kids so that hopefully they will keep on playing throughout the years and hopefully in college. Giving them a love of jazz music itself.”

Kim Snyder, a curriculum coordinator from Raytown, Missouri, came to the event because she wanted to see her students perform.

“I thought it was marvelous. What I think is so wonderful is the quality of the feedback they are getting from the educators. It is nice to get another opinion and a confirmation of the fact that they have good instructors in the first place,” Snyder said.

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