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Eau Claire Jazz Festival announces guest artists and events

The 51st annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival will be held April 21-22, bringing concerts, competitions, clinics and other festivities around the city of Eau Claire and at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The festival, sponsored by Jamf, kicks off April 21 with a student competition and clinics happening across the UW-Eau Claire campus. Guest artist headliner concerts, the 52nd Street downtown celebration and other performances and festivities will follow the competition to ensure a jazz-filled weekend for all festivalgoers.

Guest artists at headliner concerts

Grammy-award-winning trumpet player Doc Severinsen will play alongside Milwaukee-born drummer Carl Allen and UW-Eau Claire’s Jazz Ensemble I in concerts at the State Theatre at 7:30 p.m. April 21 and 7 p.m. April 22.

Severinsen also will do an in-person Q&A with Robert Baca, UW-Eau Claire professor of music and director of jazz studies, at 2:30 p.m. April 22 at UW-Eau Claire. The event is free and open to the public. Learn more

Severinsen, best known as the bandleader on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” began playing in the Tonight Show Band in 1962 and became the group’s leader by 1967. Known for his flashy performances, Severinsen kept the band’s music modern by updating many well-known swing music and jazz standards. Severinsen continues to tour with his Big Band and performs with symphony orchestras all over the country.

Allen has contributed to the jazz community in countless ways. After graduating from The William Paterson University of New Jersey in 1983, Allen played with numerous talented musicians such as J.J. Johnson and Joe Henderson. Allen has released several CDs, including “Piccadilly Square,” “The Dark Side of Dewey” and “Get Ready.” Along with his accomplishments as a performer, Allen also is a dedicated educator and businessman. He began teaching at The Julliard School in 2001, where he served as artistic director of jazz studies from 2008-2013. As a businessman, he co-founded Big Apple Productions in 1988 with saxophonist Vincent Herring. He also created Nella Productions, which produces projects and also educates through a series of jazz workshops that Allen runs around the world.

52nd Street celebration

Downtown Eau Claire will be jam-packed with jazz the evening of April 21 from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sponsored by Royal Credit Union, 52nd Street is a re-creation of the historic 52nd Street of New York City in the 1930s and ’40s, where jazz greats like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong sat in with different ensembles in a variety of nightclubs. More than 60 bands will perform in 16 club venues along Barstow Street throughout the night to create a rich, lively atmosphere for attendees to be transferred back to this thriving era of jazz music.

Wristbands for 52nd Street are $10 and will be sold at kiosks along Barstow Street. One wristband provides all-night access to all of the venues. Both 21+ and all-ages venues will ensure that everyone can partake in the 52nd Street experience.

Other festival activities

The Eau Claire Jazz Festival will include various public educational opportunities, including master clinics and interviews held by guest artists and festival adjudicators. More than 100 regional middle school, high school and college bands will participate in competition and non-competition categories during the festival. All of these activities will take place on the UW-Eau Claire campus. Find more information on the Eau Claire Jazz website.

About Eau Claire Jazz

Eau Claire Jazz Inc. is a nonprofit 501c3 organization with a mission to educate, entertain, promote and perpetuate the worldwide cultural experience of jazz. The organization was formed in 2008 to partner with UW-Eau Claire to continue and expand the long history of the Eau Claire Jazz Festival. We provide exciting and authentic jazz experiences, inspiring audiences to build a lifelong appreciation for the art form. The Eau Claire Jazz board of directors includes local individuals with an interest in promoting youth through the jazz festival and in promoting jazz in all its myriad forms. Eau Claire Jazz promotes and manages the Eau Claire Jazz Festival, 52nd Street and Gatsby’s Gala events.

For more information, contact Robert Baca, director of jazz studies at UW-Eau Claire, at 715-836-4371 or; or Gweni Smith, Eau Claire Jazz Festival director, at 608-333-2633 or