Two internationally renowned jazz ensembles, the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra and the Maria Schneider Orchestra, will head to campus soon to perform at the Elmhurst University Jazz Festival, one of the oldest and best-known collegiate festivals in the country.
The lineup of acclaimed guest artists also includes trumpet player Orbert Davis, trombonist Marshall Gilkes, baritone sax player Gary Smulyan and guitarist Anthony Wilson. They all will also serve as adjudicators at the Festival, which takes place from Feb. 22–25.
Now in its 57th year, the Elmhurst University Jazz Festival welcomes top college and university jazz bands from across the country to take part in four days of performances and education. The bands take turns performing for some of the greatest names in professional jazz today, who offer critiques and honors, and then give a performance of their own.
The Festival kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 22, with the High School Invitational, made possible with the generous support of the Sylvia and William W. Gretsch Memorial Foundation.
College and university band performances begin on Friday, Feb. 23. That evening’s feature performance will be given by The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, directed by Scotty Barnhart with guest vocalist Carmen Bradford. Fresh off a 2024 Grammy win for Best Large Jazz Ensemble, for their album Basie Swings the Blues, the Count Basie Orchestra has continued to thrive even 40 years after the passing of its iconic founder. The orchestra has won more than 18 Grammy Awards and performed sold-out shows at every major jazz festival and concert hall in the world.
On Saturday, Feb. 24, a clinic and master class with Maria Schneider begins another day of college performances, followed that evening with performances by the Elmhurst University Jazz Band and the Maria Schneider Orchestra. Critics have described Schneider’s music as “evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, imaginative, revelatory, riveting, daring, and beyond categorization.” She is among the few to have received Grammy awards in multiple genres, including jazz and classical, and for her work with rock legend David Bowie.
On the final day of the Festival, the program features more college and university performances and concludes that afternoon with a performance by Davis, Gilkes, Smulyan and Wilson with the Elmhurst University Jazz Band.
This year’s sessions and featured performances will take place in person, in Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel, and via livestream. All are open to the public. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit elmhurst.edu/jazzfestival. Elmhurst University faculty and staff can get a 50% discount on tickets to the Jazz Festival. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get the discount code.
The Elmhurst University Jazz Festival is an ideal forum for jazz education, where some of the world’s most acclaimed artists gather with the next generation of musicians not only to perform the music but also to explore it together. Students have access to some of the best musicians in the business and can talk with them about their work and artistry, gaining professional connections and insights. In addition, Elmhurst University students run the Festival, which gives them relevant, firsthand experience and a professional edge after graduation in a highly competitive marketplace.