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Fayetteville Jazz Festival set for April 23-25

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Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard live music?

For many, it has been over a year now as the COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered music venues and canceled events for nearly 12 months since things started to shut down around this time last year.

There appears to be a light at the end of this long, quiet tunnel, and at least in Fayetteville, that light is going to come with some jazz.

Organizers of the third annual Fayetteville Jazz Festival last month announced plans to return to Fayetteville April 23-25, and this week, organizers released more information on who will perform, and how they plan to run this year’s event.

Headliners include artists in residence Alexa Tarantino, Rodney Block, Carmen Bruner, and Jeremy Thomas, along with featured guest artists such as saxophonist Alexa Tarantino (Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Cecile McLorin Salvant Quintet, Sherrie Maricle & the DIVA Jazz Orchestra), trumpet player Rodney Block (Kirk Whalum, Ellis Marsalis, Doug E. Fresh), vocalist Carmen Bruner, and organist Jeremy Thomas (Joey Defrancesco, Arturo Sandoval, David Sanborn), and others.

Locals such as drummer Anthony Ball, guitarist Jake Hertzog, vocalist Lauren Nicole Clare, bassist Kyth Trantham, drummer Chris Teal, moderator Dr. Jeffery Murdock (University of Arkansas), musicologist Dr. Kimberly Hannon Teal (University of Arkansas), music theorist Dr. Joon Park, and the University of Arkansas Jazz Orchestra directed by Dr. Rick Salonen will also perform at the event.

In addition to the music, the event will include panel discussions, performance clinics, and workshops on jazz history, theory, and improvisation.

The festival will have kind of a hybrid approach to performances for safety this year, including some in-person outdoor and streaming to limited-audience events.

Shows will take place on the University of Arkansas campus and will be limited to the campus community, but streamed online for others to enjoy, at local outdoor venue Prairie Street Live, and streaming live from the newly expanded Fayetteville Public Library.

Also new this year, the event has partnered with local non-profit Music Moves for the 2021 event. The organization’s stated mission is to promote “the extraordinary contribution of African Americans to music of all genres including jazz,” and a commitment to “educating and engaging the community by making high-quality performances of Black music and educational materials accessible to everyone.”

Fayetteville Jazz Festival organizers have also invited regional college high school, middle school, and junior high school jazz bands to participate in the event, and to learn from Tarantino and other world-class players during clinics at the event. The clinics will take place remotely in the weeks leading up to the festival. School groups can register for the sessions at fayettevillejazzfestival.com.

All events at the festival will follow COVID-19 guidelines as established by the state, health department, and University of Arkansas. Social distancing and face coverings will be required.

A full schedule of performances for this year’s Fayetteville Jazz Festival is below.

For more information, visit fayettevillejazzfestival.com.

Fayetteville Jazz Festival Schedule

All events free and open to the public unless marked otherwise but individuals must register in advance through links at www.fayetteillejazzfestival.com.

Friday, April 23rd

University of Arkansas Greek Theatre
(UA community only, will be recorded and streamed after the events)
10 a.m. – Alexa Tarantino workshop with UA flute students
11 a.m. – Alexa Tarantino workshop with UA saxophone students
12:30 p.m. – U of A Jazz Ensemble Performance
1:30 p.m. – Panel discussion on “When Swing was King” with Rodney Block, Alexa Tarantino, Carmen Bruner, and Dr. Kimberly Hannon Teal. Moderated by Dr. Jeffery Murdock from the U of A Music Department
3 p.m. – Alexa Tarantino performance with Jake Hertzog, Kyth Trantham, Chris Teal

Prairie Street Live
(Free and open to the public)
6:30 p.m. – Rodney Block performance with Reggie James, Anthony Ball, Kyth Trantham

Saturday, April 24th

University of Arkansas Greek Theatre
(UA community only, will be recorded and streamed after the events)
9 a.m. – Alexa Tarantino performance workshop with UA/CMS jazz students (closed to the public, will be recorded and streamed after the event)

Fayetteville Public Library
(Live streamed but closed to the public because of COVID-19 restrictions)
12 p.m. – Carmen Bruner performance with Reggie James, Anthony Ball, and Kyth Trantham
1 p.m. – Dr. Joon Park jazz history and listening session on “Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley.”
2:30 p.m. – Performance of material from “Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley” by Lauren Nicole Clare, Alexa Tarantino, Rodney Block, Jake Hertzog, Kyth Trantham, and Chris Teal.

Prairie Street Live
(Free and open to the public)
6:30 p.m. – Alexa Tarantino Performance with Jake Hertzog, Kyth Trantham, and Chris Teal

Sunday, April 25th

Christian Life Cathedral
(Free and open to the public)
10 a.m. – Jeremy Thomas at Christian Life Cathedral

Prairie Street Live
(Free and open to the public)
6:30 p.m. – Jeremy Thomas Quartet concert

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Dustin Bartholomew is the co-founder of Fayetteville Flyer, an online publication covering all things news, art and life in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 2007. A graduate of the Department of English at the University of Arkansas and a lifelong resident of the area, he still lives in east Fayetteville with his son Hudson, daughter Evelyn, his wife Brandy, and his two dogs Lily and Steve. On occasion, he tickles the ivories in a local band called The Good Fear.

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