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New Jazz in the Valley to Precede
UW-Eau Claire's 41st Annual Jazz Festival

RELEASED: Feb. 29, 2008

EAU CLAIRE — To kick off the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's 41st annual Jazz Festival, various jazz-themed events will take place throughout the Chippewa Valley during March.

This is the first year for Jazz in the Valley, a communitywide jazz celebration that Robert Baca, director of jazz studies at UW-Eau Claire, has envisioned for a long time.

Robert Baca
Robert Baca

"I realized that a perfect setting existed, in every way, for Eau Claire to host a citywide jazz festival," Baca said, adding that he hopes as it grows, the festival will bring in visitors from across the nation to enjoy performances by world-class jazz artists.

Though many community members may be unfamiliar with jazz music, Baca said it's a worthwhile genre.

"Jazz is the world's universal musical language because it incorporates the basic music fiber of both the East and the West in its backbone," Baca said.

All Jazz in the Valley events are open to the public and will culminate with UW-Eau Claires nationally recognized Jazz Festival March 27-30.

Jazz in the Valley will provide opportunities for community members to experience jazz through various mediums. The State Theatre will host "Jazz at 5" each Tuesday in March, combining jazz music, original literature and artwork. Haymarket Grill and Dessert First will provide a special menu.

Live jazz will be very accessible during March. Jazz combos will be featured at various venues throughout Eau Claire, including Festival Foods, Oakwood Mall, Borders and local coffee houses.

There will be a few educational opportunities as well. Baca, along with Memorial High School students Cheng Cheng and Simon Adler, will share jazz history and play selections during a presentation at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 24, at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. UW-Eau Claire's Jazz Ensemble I also will perform at South Middle School during an all-school assembly.

The Artwalk, March 24-30, will feature local adult and youth artists' work with a special focus on jazz. Artwalk locations will include Acoustic Café, the Ramada's Bistro, Porter's Restaurant and the State Theatre.

Jazz Festival posterThe monthlong celebration will culminate in UW-Eau Claire's Jazz Festival, a clinic opportunity for middle school, high school and college jazz bands from the Midwest to work with and hear some of the genre's greatest practitioners. The Jazz Festival also includes nightly concerts March 27-30 featuring world-renowned guest artists, including vocalist Nnenna Freelon, jazz legends saxophonist Benny Golson and drummer Dave Weckl, and Chris Brubeck with Triple Play.

For more information on UW-Eau Claire's Jazz Festival, see their Web site or contact Amanda Spindler, assistant Jazz Festival coordinator, at spindlam@ uwec.edu.

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AS/NW

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