Bemidji State hosting 20 bands for Feb. 7-8 JazzFest

Three-time Grammy Award winner Jeff Coffin and eight-time Jazz Journalists Association Trombonist of the Year Wycliffe Gordon will be spending two days at Bemidji State University next month as lead clinicians for JazzFest 2014.

hash_BSUJazzFestBSU will host around 350 jazz musicians for the two-day clinic, Feb. 7-8, representing 20 jazz bands, primarily from Minnesota high schools but also including a band from Canada and an adult band.

Participating bands each have a 45-minute performance slot, featuring a 20 to 25-minute performance followed by constructive critique and feedback from the guest clinicians.

In addition, each guest artists will host their own clinics, and sponsors will have instrument clinics and demo instruments for participating students to try out.

“This is not a competitive clinic; it is purely educational,” said Dr. Del Lyren, festival organizer and professor of music at BSU. “For high school bands, doing something like this can be so motivational and a great learning experience. The guest artists can relay some valuable information on to these kids. Hopefully they will take this home and use it to improve their programs.”

Jeff Coffin
Coffin has been touring as a saxophonist with the Dave Matthews Band since 2008, and officially joined the band in 2009. He also fronts his own group, Jeff Coffin and the Mu’tet and has played with Maceo Parker, My Morning Jacket, Garth Brooks, Van Morrison, The Dixie Chicks and Lynyrd Skynyrd, among many others.

Wycliffe Gordon
Gordon is a former veteran member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost jazz trombonists. He has played with such jazz legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Shirley Horn and Branford Marsalis.

Other clinicians include BSU adjunct faculty members Greg Gaston and Evan Cobb.

BSU will have opportunities available for students to audition for entry into the music program for fall of 2014. Participants in the festival also will have opportunities to meet with faculty and staff and tour BSU’s music facilities, including its state-of-the-art tech lab and suite.

“Those are always impressive for people to see,” Lyren said.

Alumni Band
The JazzFest will bring more than 20 alumni musicians from all over the country back to campus. Alumni will be traveling back to Bemidji from as far away as Seattle to participate in the performance.

“With the quality of the guest artists we have coming to JazzFest this year, we thought there would be some interest among our alumni to come back and be a part of this, to participate instead of just observing,” Lyren said.

He put out a feeler for interest on Facebook, and the strong response for this year could be enough to make the Alumni Band performance an annual event at the festival.

The group will hold a concert Friday night, playing with Gordon and closing with a piece featuring solos from each of the festival’s guest artists. The group will then join the open jam session hosted by Cobb and Coffin.

“It’s going to be interesting, and this should be a really good band,” Lyren said.

Concert schedule
All of the festival’s daytime events are free and open to the public. The evening concerts are ticketed; tickets will be sold at the door for $10. Students can purchase tickets for $5, and BSU and Northwest Technical College students are admitted free with a valid student ID. Both concerts are expected to sell out; persons interested in attending either of the evening performances are encouraged to purchase advance tickets at the BSU Department of Music.

Friday, Feb. 7
The Alumni Band will perform in the Bangsberg Hall Main Theatre beginning at 8:30 p.m. The band will join Cobb and Coffin for an open jam session, which anyone can attend and join, in the Bangsberg recital hall beginning at approximately 9:15 p.m. Tickets are required for the jam session; purchasing an Alumni Band concert ticket will allow access to both Friday night events.

Saturday, Feb. 8
Bemidji State’s Blue Ice will perform with Jeff Coffin and Wycliffe Gordon beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Bangsberg Main Theatre.

Bemidji State’s 2014 JazzFest is sponsored by the BSU Department of Music, Coke of Bemidji, Yamaha and Schmitt Music of St. Paul, Minn.

• Information and advance ticket sales: BSU Department of Music; (218) 755-2915.
• Dr. Del Lyren, professor of music; (218) 755-3931,

• Jeff Coffin: Web | Twitter | Instagram
• Wycliffe Gordon: WebFacebookTwitterYouTube