This year’s CSU Stanislaus Jazz Festival will feature Grammy Award-winning bassist Christian McBride in a special concert with the CSU Stanislaus Jazz Ensemble.
The special will take place at 7:30 p.m. on March 7 at the Turlock Community Theatre.
McBride is one of the most recorded and requested jazz musicians today and has also become known as an ambassador for jazz who is eager to make it accessible and appealing to the younger generations.
“His presence is powerful — he is one of the most entertaining musicians out there,” said Joe Mazzaferro, director for the Jazz Festival and coordinator of jazz studies at CSU Stanislaus. “You feel the love that he has for people and for life and he shares that with everyone.”
In addition to the great performances, the Jazz Festival also aims to bring young musicians together to engage in activities and workshops to gain feedback from professional musicians, Mazzaferro said.
Jazz ensembles from local and regional junior high and high schools will have the opportunity to perform in Snider Recital Hall on the CSU Stanislaus campus throughout the day of the festival, where they will also benefit from the advice of clinicians; more than 30 ensembles have signed up.
“The festival has seen meaningful growth over the past few years,” Mazzaferro said. “This year we have more groups participating than we have had in the past two years, including many that are new and experiencing the Jazz Festival for the first time.”
Brad Hart, the instrumental music director at Johansen High School and a CSU Stanislaus alumnus, has brought his jazz students to the festival the last four year, which he said has enriched their experience by learning directly from jazz specialists.
“For my first timers in the ensemble this is often the first time they get to see a professional jazz player in person and they always come away playing better the next day,” Hart said.
The festival also provides the opportunity for CSU Stanislaus students in the jazz studies program, many of whom will become music educators, to see firsthand what it is like to run and participate in a festival.
“Some of the tools I learned from teachers and clinicians at the Jazz Festival when I was a student I use in my teaching today,” Hart said.
The clinicians who will be lending their expertise at this year’s Jazz Festival include Mike Dana from Fresno City College, Patrick Langham from University of the Pacific, Steve Roach from Sacramento State, and Marcus Shelby of the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra. McBride will also present a master class at Snider Recital Hall at noon.
“One of the most interesting parts of the Jazz Festival is the opportunity for parents, students and educators to ask questions of the guest artists and clinicians,” said Grace Carrillo, a jazz trumpeter and graduate of the music program who is returning to assist with the festival. “Whether during a master class or just while passing in the hall, anyone is free to ask a question and learn something new.”
The festival provides an opportunity for students to see beyond what they are studying in the classroom and boosts the visibility of the jazz program — which aims to not only educate future jazz musicians and educators, but also to get the community more involved in jazz music.
“This is one of the reasons we decided to perform with Christian McBride at the Turlock Community Theatre — to make the concert accessible to as many people as possible,” Mazzaferro said. “Students in the jazz studies program have also been playing at the Carnegie Arts Center and at local schools. Being a part of the community makes them feel good about being musicians.”
“I am really excited to see people come together to enjoy this great event. It is something that we can all be proud of.”