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Tip Sheet for the week of Jazz Fest 2012

March 19, 2012

The Eau Claire Jazz Festival — which began on the UW-Eau Claire campus 45 years ago — is one of the oldest jazz festivals in the country and one of the largest in the Midwest. The festival has its roots in UW-Eau Claire's jazz studies area, which is celebrating its 50th year. The nonprofit organization Eau Claire Jazz continues to partner with UW-Eau Claire to host the jazz festival, which each year attracts more than 2,500 college, high school and middle school musicians. With more than 5,000 people attending the annual event, the festival results in more than $750,000 in tourism-related revenue. Many of the Jazz Festival events will be hosted on campus, and many students, faculty members and alumni will participate as performers or judges. For a full schedule, see the Eau Claire Jazz Festival website.

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With UW-Eau Claire celebrating its 50th year of jazz studies (1962-2012), several of the university's first jazz students and jazz directors will participate in the Eau Claire Jazz Festival March 29-April 1. Ron Keezer, professor emeritus of percussion, was among the students who were part of the university's earliest jazz ensembles. Keezer served as student director of the jazz ensemble during the 1963-64 academic year. He joined the UW-Eau Claire music faculty in 1969 and taught percussion and jazz until 2001. Keezer has invited the other past jazz ensemble directors to return for the 50-year celebration and the 45th anniversary of the jazz festival. Expected to attend are Keezer; Larry McCaghy (first student director, 1962); Joe Casey (first faculty director, 1964-68); and Hank Mautner (director from 1978-86). Jazz alumni and past jazz ensemble directors will gather from 4-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 30 and 31, at The Joynt on Water Street. Keezer is available to talk about the early days of jazz on campus — a time when students were forbidden to use the term "jazz" to describe their music and instead had to call it a "dance" band. You can contact Ron Keezer at 715-834-7530 or keezerrw@uwec.edu.

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A number of UW-Eau Claire students, faculty and alumni will perform as part of the Jazz Fest's 52nd Street event Friday, March 30, at various locations along Barstow Street in downtown Eau Claire. Music will begin at 5 p.m., but will "explode" at 10 p.m. Barstow Street will become New York City's famous 52nd Street, with musicians performing jazz at participating locales. Many jazz legends from the 1920s through the 1940s honed their talents and learned their craft in jazz clubs along 52nd Street. Typically a house band would play the first set and then other musicians were invited to join in and jam, sharing their music. The Eau Claire 52nd Street venues will replicate those jazz clubs from long ago. Well-known UW-Eau Claire grads such as John Raymond, Jeremy Boettcher and Sean Carey will be among those performing in the various downtown venues. Musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments to sit in with the bands. Dr. Ryan Jones, who teaches music history, helped plan the Jazz Festival's 52nd Street event. Contact Dr. Ryan Jonesat 715-836-4947 or jonesrp@uwec.edu.

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Guest artists and jazz greats John Patitucci, a Grammy-winning bassist, and Andy Martin, respected as one of the best trombonists in the country, will lead master classes Friday and Saturday, March 30 and March 31, on the UW-Eau Claire campus. Martin will lead classes at 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and Patitucci at 3:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday. All master classes will be in Schofield Auditorium and are open to the public.

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A number of UW-Eau Claire music alumni at various stages of their careers will perform at 2012 Eau Claire Jazz Festival events. The John Raymond Project and the Jeremy Boettcher Quartet are among the ensembles that feature talented alumni. Many alumni also will be judges during the festival.

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UW-Eau Claire's Jazz Ensemble I will perform at the "Jazz Takes Center Stage" concerts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 30, and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 31. Both concerts will take place at Memorial High School.

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Haas Fine Arts Center on lower campus is among the venues hosting the Eau Claire Jazz Festival Art Crawl. More than 125 pieces of art reflecting the vibrancy and emotions of live music are on display in Haas and several other Eau Claire venues. The pieces of art were created by community members and area middle school art students.

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More than 40 UW-Eau Claire student volunteers help organize the Eau Claire Jazz Festival, handling everything from logistics to publicity. For details, contact Patty Horecki at patty@eauclairejazz.com.

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