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West Seneca Schools Holding 19th Annual Jazz Festival tonight | Arts & Culture

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West Seneca Schools Holding 19th Annual Jazz Festival tonight
West Seneca Schools Holding 19th Annual Jazz Festival tonight

West Seneca Central students will perform alongside a Grammy Award winning jazz artist tonight, Friday, April 27, in the Jazz Festival 2012 at 7 p.m. at West Seneca West Senior High School.

James Burton III, jazz trombonist and director of the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, will be the featured guest at the concert.

This year marks the 19th anniversary of West Seneca’s Jazz Festival for aspiring jazz musicians from its schools.

Burton, trombonist, composer, arranger and educator, is among a new wave of musicians hitting the jazz scene with an expressive sound, steeped in the tradition.  He is a graduate of Jackie McLean’s Institute for Jazz Studies in Hartford, Connecticut and the Juilliard School in New York City.

He is currently on faculty at the Juilliard School of Music.  He was previously the director of jazz studies at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah. 

A  Grammy award-winning performer, Burton has performed alongside many great jazz artists including Slide Hampton, Herbie Hancock and Jon Faddis, and he has also performed with the Ray Charles Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Count Basie Orchestra, Lionel Hampton Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Roy Hargrove Big Band.  Burton has played many venues around the world including Tanglewood, the Spoleto Festival (Italy), the Tim Festival (Rio de Janeiro), the Lionel Hampton Festival, the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and the Blue Note.   

The West Seneca Central Jazz Festival began in 1994 as a district-wide event dedicated to student learning and performance.  The festival has provided students an opportunity to hear, speak to and perform with a professional jazz artist in rehearsal and in concert.  This year Burton spent two days lending his expertise to West Seneca’s young musicians.   

The festival has featured such professional jazz artists as Lenny Pickett, leader of the Saturday Night Live Band; Ed Shaughnessy, former drummer of the Tonight Show Band; Tom “Bones” Malone, trombone player with the David Letterman show; Chris Vadala, saxophone player with the Chuck Mangione Quartet; and Don Menza, legendary tenor saxophone player with Buddy Rich’s Big Band.

This year’s festival will feature jazz ensembles from East and West Senior high schools, East and West middle schools, and Allendale, East, Potters Road and West Elementary schools.  John Hasselback Jr., a West Seneca music teacher and jazz artist in his own right, is coordinating the event for the district.

West Seneca Central was recently recognized as one of the “Best Communities for Music Education” by the National Association of Music Merchants for the second year in a row.

Tickets for the Friday, April 27 Jazz Festival  Concert at West Seneca West Senior High School  may be purchased  for a donation of $ 3 per person through at the door.

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