Carl Allen
Carl Allen

All That Jazz: Annual Fest to Feature World-Renowned Drummer

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The Athens Jazz Festival returns this weekend, featuring a mix of educational clinics, free public concerts and an appearance by world-renowned jazz drummer Carl Allen.

The festival, which is being presented by the Ohio University School of Music, Athens Area Citizens for the Arts, ARTS/West and Stuart’s Opera House, kicks off Friday and continues through Sunday.

As in past years, students from OU and area high schools will have the opportunity to study with professional musicians and educators.

This weekend’s guest list includes Curtis Johnson, retired associate professor of music at West Virginia University; Ben Huntoon, jazz educator at Otterbein University; Ohio University School of Music faculty member Sean Parsons; and this year’s special guest artist, jazz drummer Carl Allen.

Allen, who has more than 200 recordings to his credit, is the art director of Jazz Studies at the Juilliard School in New York City and the bandleader of The Carl Allen Quartet. In addition, he is an active sideman with Christian McBride and Inside Strait, Benny Golson, and others.

Festival organizer and Ohio University School of Music Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies Matt James thinks Allen’s visit will be beneficial to everyone involved with the fest.

“Any time a student or professional can share the stage with a musician who has served on the faculty of Julliard, and performed with such major jazz artists as Christian McBride, Vincent Herring, Phil Woods, Woody Shaw and others, they walk away enriched and inspired to further their own development and investigation into great music making,” he said.

The festival opens Friday at 7:30 p.m. with a concert at ARTS/West, featuring Allen, OU faculty and festival guests. Saturday begins with a full lineup of high school ensembles at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium from 8:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., followed by an evening concert at 7:30 p.m., featuring Allen with OU’s student jazz and jazz percussion ensembles.

The fest wraps up Sunday at 7:30 p.m. with a show at Jackie O’s by OU music students, who will be playing a mix of “straight-ahead swing to funk and even a little gypsy jazz,” according to Student Jazz Combo Director John Horne.

Variety is the key to successful festival, according to James, who is hoping for a good turnout from the community this weekend.

“The three concerts are sure to include something for every lover of good music…straight-ahead jazz, big band, small group, standards and original compositions,” he said. “This is also an opportunity to support young musicians taking their initial strides into playing jazz, some of them improvising for the first time in front of a live audience. The OU student musicians are playing great and are sure to put on a spectacular concert.”

Friday, April 11

7:30 p.m.

Athens Jazz Festival Concert #1
Free admission, open to the public

Matt James, saxophone
Curtis Johnson, saxophone
Ben Huntoon, trumpet
Sean Parsons, piano
Terry Douds, bass
John Horne, guitar
Carl Allen, drums

Saturday, April 12

8:30 a.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Athens Jazz Festival High School Ensembles
Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium
Free admission, open to the public

High school and middle school jazz ensemble performances, with adjudication by guests Curtis Johnson, Ben Huntoon and OU faculty member Sean Parsons

Participating schools include Athens County Jazz Ensemble, Bloom-Carroll High School, Edison Middle School, Lancaster High School Jazz Ensembles I and II and Felicity Franklin High School

2:15 p.m.

Visiting artist Carl Allen Jazz Clinic
Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium
Free admission, open to the public

7:30 p.m.

Athens Jazz Festival Concert #2
Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium, Ohio University campus
Free Admission, open to the public

Featuring visiting artist Carl Allen and the following student ensembles:
Ohio University Jazz Percussion Ensemble, Roger Braun, director
Ohio University Jazz Ensemble II, Sean Parsons, director
Ohio University Jazz Ensemble I, Matt James, director

Sunday, April 13

7:30 p.m.

Athens Jazz Festival Concert #3
Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery
Free admission, open to the public

Featuring Ohio University student Jazz Combos, John Horne and Jordan Reed, directors