Featured Performers

On its 51st anniversary, the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival boldly charges into its second half-century with quite an impressive lineup. Click on the names below to read more about the world-class artists performing at this year’s Festival.

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra

Arturo O’Farrill, pianist, composer, educator, and founder and Artistic Director of the nonprofit Afro Latin Jazz Alliance, was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. His debut album with the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Una Noche Inolvidable, earned a first Grammy Award nomination in 2006. His next album Song for Chico, earned a Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2009. The 2015 release of The Offense of the Drum was yet another Grammy Award winner. His newest album release is Cuba: The Conversation Continues on the Motéma label.

In his early career, Arturo performed with the Carla Bley Big Band, Dizzy Gillespie, Steve Turre, Freddy Cole, The Fort Apache Band, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, and Harry Belafonte. In 1995, Arturo agreed to direct the band that preserved much of his father’s music, the Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra. Currently, Arturo’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra continues the tradition every Sunday night at Birdland in New York City.

We are thrilled to present Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra at our Festival for the very first time.

Maria Schneider Orchestra

Maria Schneider’s music has been hailed by critics as “evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, and beyond categorization.” She blurs the lines between genres, making her long list of commissioners quite varied, stretching from Jazz at Lincoln Center, to The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, to collaborating with David Bowie. She is among a small few to have received Grammy awards in multiple genres.

Her latest recording with the Orchestra is The Thompson Fields, which won a 2016 Grammy for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. In the same year, she also won Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for her work on the Bowie single “Sue (Or In A Season of Crime).”

We are excited to present Ms. Schneider and her orchestra for a third performance at the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival.

Sean Jones

At the leading edge of contemporary jazz, trumpeter Sean Jones is an in-demand performer and educator.  On Wynton Marsalis’ invitation, he played lead trumpet in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra until 2010.  In 2011, he was selected by Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, and Wayne Shorter to perform on their Tribute to Miles tour.  His current focus performance focus is upon the quartet on his latest CD, im.pro.vise = never before seen.

He is on faculty at Duquesne University and Oberlin Conservatory, he conducts master classes and clinics around the world, and he serves as Artistic Director of both the Pittsburgh and Cleveland Jazz Orchestras.

Jones serves as guest artist/adjudicator, and he will participate in the High School Invitational on Thursday February 22 and in a feature performance on Sunday, February 25.  We welcome him back for his second appearance at our Festival.

Jiggs Whigham

Jiggs Whigham is an internationally-acclaimed trombonist, band leader, and educator. He first came to the attention of critics and fans at 17, as featured soloist and first trombonist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, directed by Ray McKinley. Currently, he is conductor of the BBC Big Band in Great Britain, artistic director of the Berlin Jazz Orchestra, and visiting tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. He is musical director of the LaJJOB (Brandenburger Youth Jazz Orchestra) and artistic director of the BUJAZZO (German jazz orchestra).

Whigham’s first appearance as guest artist/adjudicator was over 30 years ago, in 1987 – and after appearances in 1992 and 2008, we are excited to welcome him back for a fourth time.

Matt Wilson

New York-based drummer and Grammy nominee Matt Wilson is one of today’s most celebrated jazz artists. He is universally recognized for his musical and melodic drumming style as well as being a gifted composer, bandleader, producer, and teaching artist. He leads the Matt Wilson Quartet, Arts and Crafts, Christmas Tree-O and the Carl Sandburg Project. Matt is integral part of bands led by Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Charlie Haden, Lee Konitz, Bob Stewart, Denny Zeitlin, Ron Miles, Marty Ehrlich, Ted Nash, Jane Ira Bloom and Dena DeRose among others. He has appeared on 250 CDs as a sideman and has released nine as a leader for Palmetto Records as well as co-leading five additional releases.

Matt has twice appeared at our Festival with his Arts and Crafts group, but this is his first jaunt as guest artist/adjudicator.

Connect with #ElmhurstCollege