When: Wed., Feb. 18, Thu., Feb. 19, Fri., Feb. 20 and Sat., Feb. 21 2015
CAROLINA JAZZ FESTIVAL
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 18–SATURDAY, FEB. 21
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA, CHAPEL HILL—Music scholarship can get dry without ace practitioners in the room. The Carolina Jazz Festival, now in its 38th year, realized that long ago. Blending performance and presentation, this four-day celebration of America's classical music blurs the divide between listening and learning.
The festival begins Wednesday afternoon with an open rehearsal from the UNC Jazz Band under the direction of trumpeter Jim Ketch, who also directs the entire event. A faculty showcase incorporating some students follows. On Thursday afternoon, a forum with bassist Rodney Whitaker and trumpeter Etienne Charles explores topics from jazz history to jazz business, before a tribute to Cal Tjader (including a portion open to dancing) dominates "Latin Jazz Night."
If you're in it just for the headliners, check out Brian Blade and The Fellowship Band at Memorial Hall Friday night at 8 p.m. Blade's an impeccable drummer, known for his session work with the likes of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, with his own fantastic Fellowship Band and with Wayne Shorter, who he's backed since 2000. But the festival makes it easy to do more than just see the big name; music professor Dan Davis, for instance, talks in the nearby Gerrard Hall about the history of the drumset in jazz an hour before Blade's band plays.
Whitaker and Charles join the UNC Jazz Band for a closing show on Saturday. But the rest of the day goes to a huge competition with high school jazz bands and combos from all over North Carolina and Virginia. Visit music.unc.edu/jazzfest for the full schedule. Many performances are free, while some, including Blade's concert, require tickets. —Chris Vitiello