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SUB presents jazz festival

Catherine Owers | Friday, March 1, 2013

The 55th Annual Collegiate Jazz Festival kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. and continues tomorrow evening in Washington Hall. The event, presented by Student Union Board, is designed to connect musicians nationwide.

Event programmer Tim Moots said the event consistently draws talented collegiate groups from across the nation, as well as an impressive set of judges. This year, jazz professors from Michigan State University will serve as judges and will also perform both nights at the end of the program in the ‘Judges Jam.’

“The judges this year are coming from a long list of renowned judges that include Cannonball Adderly and Wynton Marsalis,” Moots said.

The festival also emphasizes jazz education, Moots said, and the judges will lead a clinic on Saturday afternoon for all the performers.

Performance groups from Notre Dame include the University Jazz Band, the Notre Dame New Orleans Brass Band and the Bill Gowans Trio. Bungum said all the groups will bring different interpretations of jazz to their performances, but the event extends beyond the University.

The Alma College Percussion Ensemble, from Alma, Mich. will open Friday evening’s show, a performance event coordinator Sammy Bungum described as a sure success.

“They’re one of the coolest groups around,” Bungum said. “They’re usually a fan favorite.”

Additionally, Bungum said the Fusion Ensemble from Columbia College in Chicago, Ill., will perform, bringing a unique sound to the festival.

“They play music that’s a little bit different, a little bit more avant-garde,” said Bungum, “but we’re excited to have them. It’s a different kind of sound, but I think a lot of people will enjoy it.”

Moots said the festival is being promoted as a tradition as well an opportunity to experience a unique art form. The dorm with the largest student attendance will win free Chipotle.

“It’s one of the oldest traditions here at Notre Dame, a school that’s all about tradition,” Moots said. “This used to be, and still is, a premier festival and an exposition of jazz itself.

 “[Students can] see a side of things you typically don’t see; there’s going to be something for everyone.”

Bungum said students can realize the legacy of jazz and the effects it has on contemporary music, especially hip-hop.  

“The music isn’t necessarily going to all reflect old-time jazz, some of it will, some of it won’t,” he said. “[The festival] shows the progression of the art form and that it still is alive.”  

Bungum said the festival should be enjoyed by a large audience, not just the jazz enthusiast.

“For me, I love watching the Olympics because you get to see people who are the best at what they do,” he said. “The groups coming, they have some of the best players; I think whether you enjoy jazz or not, you can enjoy people who are good at what they do.”