Jazz Spoken Here
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Guest Artists, Concert on Tap for Weekend Jazz Fest

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This weekend, musicians from across Ohio will come to Athens to participate in a weekend of performance and workshops at the Athens Jazz Festival.

The festival is an annual tradition, but 2012 marks the first year Ohio University has been involved in the organization of the event.

“The reason the School of Music and the Performing Arts Series were brought in is because of the connections within the educational realm,” said Michael Parkinson, director of the OU School of Music.

This year, two guest artists are attending the fest. Guitarist Gary Wittner and trumpet player Tim Hagans will perform and provide their services in a workshop.

Wittner is a widely respected jazz educator and considered to be a world-renowned expert on the music and life of Thelonious Monk. Dayton, Ohio, native Hagans has toured internationally and has been nominated for three Grammy-awards, most recently in 2010 for “Box of Cannoli” on The Avatar Sessions (Best Instrumental Composition).

The weekend’s events start Friday at 5 p.m. with a guest artist “meet and greet” at the J Bar on North Court St, followed by a pub crawl with a different jazz band performing at each venue. High school band workshops will be held throughout the day on Saturday.

Hagans and Wittner, along with Parkinson’s band Jazz Spoken Here, will perform Saturday evening at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. The OU African Ensemble will make an appearance, as well as local band Elemental Groove Theory, the OU Jazz Ensemble and the top high school band from the weekend’s workshops.

Parkinson says jazz music is “freedom of expression,” and that festival attendees should anticipate varied, complex performances.

“Expect to hear some things that will challenge you a little bit. Expect to hear some new things. Expect to hear traditional things,” said Parkinson. “Jazz is a music that has what I like to call ‘the surprise factor.’ It’s not a music that’s obvious. There’s an old expression that Sonny Rawlins said: ‘I never play it the same way once.'”

Saturday’s show time is 7:30 p.m. General admission is $10. OU students will be admitted free. Visit for more information.