Jazz festival is Young’s swan song


The IUP Jazz Band and Jazz Ensemble will hold a Jazz Festival at 7 p.m. Saturday in Fisher Auditorium.

Hosted by music professors Dr. Keith Young and Dr. Kevin Eisensmith, this will be the 16th iteration of the festival and the final one for Young, the IUP Jazz Band director who will be retiring at the end of the semester.

Audience members can expect to see Young featured as a soloist with the Jazz Ensemble, directed by Eisensmith.

This year’s Jazz Festival will also be featuring a guest artist: jazz trumpeter George Rabbai.

The most important goal to Eisensmith is to have fun, but also to showcase a selection of jazz pieces the ensemble can perform and perform well. Another goal of the festival is for high school jazz musicians to work with an established artist to provide the students with “a better understanding of the various styles of jazz music.”

Patrons who attend the festival can anticipate specific pieces like the Jazz Band’s “Theme Song,” an arrangement of “Strike Up the Band” by Sammy Nestico and two pieces by Bob Mentzer: “Incredible Journey” and “Carla.”

The Jazz Ensemble will be opening its performance with the traditional arrangement of “Back Home Again in Indiana,” which was composed by IUP alumnus Roy Mitchell in 1990. It has been used at every jazz festival since. Another piece in the set list that the audience may recognize will be Radiohead’s “Optimistic.”

For a few of the student performers, this will also be their last performance with the Jazz Ensemble before graduation.

John Mullen (graduate, music) is coming up on 15 years of experience playing the drums. He has also been the graduate assistant to percussion professor Dr. Michael Kingan.

Mullen praised the faculty he has worked with.

“The music faculty at IUP are truly masters of their craft, and there are many students here who probably owe them more thanks than they even realize,” he said.

Lead trumpet player Sadie Spencer (senior, music education) has been playing trumpet since fifth grade. She will be student teaching in the fall and graduating in December.

Senior Sarah Thompson (lead trombone player) and senior Jake LeJune (lead tenor saxophone player) will also be graduating.

Regular admission is $10, but a discount will be offered to senior citizens or groups of 15 or more at $8.

For I-Card holders and children, tickets are $6. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.