Annual Jazz Festival at WCU March 23, 24

Western Carolina University’s annual Jazz Festival will take place Friday, March 23, and Saturday, March 24, with several jazz clinics during the weekend led by guest saxophonist Chris Cheek and guest trumpeter Rich Willey.

Chris Cheek

Chris Cheek

Cheek, native of St. Louis, has been featured in more than 60 albums and has recorded four of his own albums: “I Wish I Knew,” “A Girl Named Joe,” “Vine” and “Blues Cruise.” Cheek has performed in Canada, China, Japan and Russia, as well as throughout Europe and the United States.

Willey, native of Florida, has performed with many famous musicians, including Lionel Hampton, Buddy Morrow and Hank Mobley. Willey is author of four books: “I’d Rather be Boppin’—24 Bop Duets,” “Home Cookin’—24 Dixie Jazz Duets,” “Jazz Improv Materials Handbook” and “The Melody Lingers On—24 Melodic Jazz Solos.”

Performing Saturday evening will be the WCU Jazz Big Band/Combo Ensembles, featuring Cheek and Willey. The performance will be in the Fine and Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Performing Friday evening will be the Count Basie Orchestra, which has won 17 Grammy Awards, including best large jazz ensemble album in 1997 and 1999, and has topped every respected jazz poll in the world at least once. The performance will be in the Fine and Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for the Basie concert are on sale now at $30 for adults ages 18 and older, $25 for couples ages 18 and older, $20 for 2006-2007 season subscribers, $20 for groups of 20 or more, $15 for current or retired WCU faculty and staff, and $5 for students. Reservations are highly recommended.

For more information about festival events, contact Pavel Wlosok, assistant professor of jazz, at (828) 227-3261 or via e-mail at