Jazz festival returns to West Chester University

WEST CHESTER – Wells School of Music at West Chester University will once again host its annual Jazz Fest concert featuring world-class artists from Wednesday March 23 to Saturday March 26.

The jazz festival has been canceled for the past two years due to the pandemic, which is winding down, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To celebrate the university’s 150th anniversary, the jazz festival is a tribute to the past, present and future of the university’s Wells School of Music with performances featuring faculty, alumni and current students, as well as performances by jazz legends.

The student jazz ensemble, the Criterions, is one of the many prides of the Wells School of Music, noted Jonathan Ragonese, director of jazz studies.

Here is the schedule:

Wednesday, March 23 at the Madeleine Wing Adler Theater

  • 12:00 p.m. – Larry Marshall Trio – A former student who started playing drums at age 5. His recording and touring career has taken him around the world to perform with some of the world’s greatest jazz artists. He will play it with fellow alumnus and bassist, Rob Swanson, and pianist Andy Roberts. Free.
  • 8 p.m. – WCU Faculty Jazz Group – With Dan Cherry (trombone), David Cullen (guitar), Christopher Hanning (drums), Marc Jacoby (vibraphone), Terry Klinefelter (piano), Peter Paulsen (bass), Jonathan Ragonese (Saxophone) , John Swana (valve trombone/EWI) Toll Free.

ThursdayMarch 24 at the Madeleine Wing Adler Theater

  • 8 p.m. – WCU Criteria Celebrates Alumni Director of Jazz Studies Jonathan Ragonese leads Criteria in an alumni celebration with special guests. The evening opens with a performance by the Latin Jazz Ensemble conducted by Dr. Marc Jacoby.

Friday, March 25 at the Madeleine Wing Adler Theater

  • 1:00 p.m. – John Swana Trio – A former student, Swana is from Norristown, Montgomery County and began studying the trumpet at the age of 11. Swana has performed or toured with the Mingus Big Band and the Dave Holland Big Band and has also performed and recorded with well known jazz names from across the country and around the world. He plays with Philadelphia jazz guitarist Steve Giordano and trumpeter Dave Meash. Free.
  • 7:30 p.m. – David Liebman with the Dalí String Quartet in Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, featuring the University’s Criterions Jazz Ensemble and the Dalí Quartet in Residence, in a concert with the University’s Criterions Jazz Ensemble with the Dalí String Quartet in Uptown! Knauer Center for the Performing Arts.

Cost: Tickets: $25-30 for adults/$15 for students. Available at https://secure.uptownwestchester.org/2824/2825.

Saturday, March 26 Madeleine Wing Adler Theater

  • 10:00 a.m. High School Jazz Ensemble Showcase – Area high school jazz ensembles will perform in half-hour sets. Student sets will receive feedback from WCU faculty.

Cost: Tickets are $12/$7 students at www.wcupatix.com/schoolofmusic.

More information is available at www.wcupa.edu/jazzfest.

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