Western Carolina University’s 15th annual Jazz Festival will bring an afternoon and evening of master classes and performances to campus Saturday, April 22, from noon to 10 p.m. at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.
Featured artists include vocalist Carly Johnson, bassist Mike McGuirk and drummer John Riley, along with the WCU Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Pavel Wlosok. All performances and workshops are free and open to the public, except for admission charged for the featured evening concert, with tickets $5 for students and WCU faculty and staff and $10 for the general public.
The jazz festival is an annual event founded and organized by Wlosok, WCU professor of music. “Jazz is an original American art form, which means, like America, it draws upon universal and international inspiration and has an appeal that reaches around the world,” he said. “The significance of the experience provided by the Jazz Festival is for the community to enjoy tremendous music and for WCU students to share the stage with world-class professional musicians as the students develop their own performing concepts and become future musicians and educators.”
This year’s lineup includes experienced and emerging artists with a diversity of talent. Johnson, who hails from Louisville, Kentucky, is best known for her versatile renditions of jazz classics and her recording with the rock group My Morning Jacket on the song “Holding On To Black Metal” on their 2011 Grammy-nominated album “Circuital.”
Riley moved to New York City in 1976 to join the Woody Herman Band and has played and recorded with legendary jazz musicians Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Scofield and Stan Getz. McGuirk, also a New York City-based musician, won the 1997 International Society of Bassists jazz bass competition and is frequently in the recording studio or playing live. Wlosok, a Czech-born American pianist, composer, arranger and educator who lives in Sylva, has played for international audiences and routinely records as a group leader or as an accompanying musician.
In 2012, the Wlosok/Riley/McGuirk Trio released the locally-recorded “Live At The Grey Eagle: Jubilee Suite” CD album on the European label New Port Line to critical acclaim.
The festival schedule:
Black Box Theater at Bardo Arts Center
1 p.m. – Riley teaches a jazz drumming master class, intended for WCU percussion studio majors but open to all students and the public.
2 p.m. – Johnson teaches jazz vocal master class, intended for WCU voice and musical theatre majors but open to all students and the public.
Performance Hall at Bardo Arts Center
3 p.m. – WCU Jazz Ensemble rehearsal and sound check with featured artists.
4:30 p.m. – Wlosok/Riley/McGuirk Trio sound check and rehearsal.
7:30 p.m. – Concert with the WCU Jazz Ensemble featuring guest artists Carly Johnson on vocals and John Riley on drums, as well as the Wlosok/Riley/McGuirk Trio.