The La Porte High School Jazz Bands will present their 30th annual "JazzFest" on Friday, May 3, at 7:00 PM in the La Porte High School Performing Arts Center. Performances will feature all LPCSC Jazz Bands with seven professional guest artists.
ADMISSION: Adults $ 15.00, Students age 12 and over/Sr. Cit. $ 10.00, Under age 12 Free. Tickets will be available at the door and in advance from LPHS Jazz and Lab Band members. This year’s featured guest artists include:
Jim Widner, bass: A sought-after jazz musician and clinician, bass player Jim Widner enjoyed a storied career on stage with the likes of Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and the Glenn Miller Orchestra directed by Buddy DeFranco before he pursued his true passion – jazz education. As a performer, Widner played alongside jazz luminaries including Clark Terry, Marilyn Maye, Lou Marini, Peter Erskine, Eric Marienthal, Mulgrew Miller, Louie Bellson, Wycliffe Gordon, Harry Watters, Terell Stafford, Bucky Pizzarelli, Randy Brecker, and Bill Watrous, among others. He has performed at the world famous Lionel Hampton and Montreaux Jazz Festivals, with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and at an appearance for former President Bill Clinton. Today, the Jim Widner Big Band records on the Chase Music Group label. The group’s critically acclaimed recordings include “Yesterdays and Today,” “Body and Soul,” “Live,” “Flying High,” “Out of This World” and “The Beat Goes On.” Performance and education intertwined early in Widner’s career. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Widner holds an MA from the University of Memphis and went on to do postgraduate work at the University of North Texas. But arguably the most influential moment of his education was in 1963, when he attended a Stan Kenton Jazz Camp as a student. Widner went on to be an integral part of the Kenton organization, rising through the ranks, and eventually becoming its summer camp manager. The Kenton program became the template from which he launched his own series of summer jazz camps – annual educational programs that celebrated a 30th anniversary in 2017. Today, as Professor and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), Widner oversees a program that not only hones his student’s talents but also provides unmatched performance opportunities. Among them is the annual UMSL Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival, a three-day event Widner launched in 2004. The festival brings internationally recognized professional jazz musicians to the UMSL campus to conduct workshops and clinics for hundreds of high school and college big bands and combos. The festival culminates as the UMSL Jazz Ensemble, directed by Widner, which opens headline concerts for the big names as they perform for the public. Among other outstanding achievements under Widner’s direction, in 2017 the UMSL Jazz Ensemble was invited to perform at the prestigious International Midwest Band Clinic, the annual Jazz Education Network Conference and the Missouri Music Educators Association event – a rare “triple crown” of conference appearances. All the while, Widner has earned an impressive set of personal accolades. In 1999, students at the University of Missouri-Columbia renamed the music wing of the fine arts residential college, “Widner House,” in his honor. In April 2006, The Statesmen of Jazz conferred upon him the title of “Statesman” in recognition of a “brilliant career of creative musical achievements in performance and education.” In March 2008, Widner was featured in the cover story of JazzEd magazine. Downbeat magazine gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in jazz education in 2009. The 2014 feature film Whiplash, the story of a promising jazz musician, features an arrangement of the classic tune “Caravan” as commissioned and recorded by the Jim Widner Big Band. He is a founding member of the Jazz Education Network and was named the 2018 Outstanding Jazz Educator by the Missouri Association for Jazz Education. Most recently, Widner was recognized as the 2018 St. Louis Jazz Hero by the Jazz Journalists Association. Because of Jim's work in jazz education,and in particular the Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival, the mayor of St. Louis, Lyda Krewson, declared April 11, 2019 as Jim Widner Jazz Education Day in the City of St. Louis. Widner is a Yamaha and DiAdario performing artist.
Chip McNeill, Saxophone: In addition to his position with the University of Illinois School of Music, Professor McNeill is Musical Director and Jazz Tenor Saxophonist for Grammy award-winning recording artist, Arturo Sandoval. He has toured with and recorded the compact discs (CDs) Americana and Hot House with Arturo Sandoval. In 1998, Hot House won a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz recording. To his credit, Professor McNeill won a Grammy for his performance on Hot House, and two of his charts were nominated for Grammys from the recording. Professor McNeill also has performed and toured with the legendary jazz trumpeter, Maynard Ferguson, with whom he has produced, written, and performed on several CDs, including Live in London, These Cats Can Swing, and Maynard Ferguson's final CD, The One and Only. He has recorded performances with Nat Adderley, David Liebman, Duffy Jackson, Ira Sullivan, the Woody Herman Orchestra, Ted Shumate, and Larry Willis. Professor McNeill's most recent CD is "The Whirl" on Armored Records. He has performed with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, and Wynton Marsalis. Professor McNeill has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Monterey Jazz Festival in California, and Noto Jazz Festival in Japan. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall in Sydney, Australia, and the London Palladium. He also has performed for jazz radio and television productions in Europe, Japan, the United Kingdom, India, and Indonesia. Before joining the University of Illinois School of Music, he was Chair of Jazz Studies at Florida International University in Miami and Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg.
Frank David Greene, Trumpet: Frank Greene is currently the lead trumpet in the legendary Count Basie Orchestra. One of the most in-demand lead trumpet players in New York, Frank performed as lead trumpet in the CBS Orchestra for the final three years of The Late Show with David Letterman. Frank was raised in Northern California to a non-musical family. He is an alumnus of the University of North Texas, where Frank played lead trumpet in the famed One O’clock Lab Band. He was recruited to play with Woody Herman at just 21 years of age. Frank went on to spend the next five years playing lead trumpet, recording and touring with the great Maynard Ferguson. Frank plays lead trumpet for and has recorded with The Christian McBride Big Band, Jimmy Heath Band, Maynard Ferguson, Bob Mintzer, Frank Foster, Nicholas Payton Big Band, Frank Wess Nonette, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, Clark Terry Big Band, and the Roy Hargrove Band among many others. Frank has also done several music projects and recordings with Christina Aguilera, Kevin Spacey, Queen Latifah, Vanessa Williams, Stevie Wonder, Bono, Miley Cyrus, as well as soundtracks for Netflix and NFL Films.
Scott Whitfield, Trombone: Scott Whitfield (trombonist, composer, arranger, and vocalist) is internationally recognized for his work with many contemporary big bands, including the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra and the new edition of Johnny Griffin’s Big Soul Band, as well as his own Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestras (East and West). Whitfield’s discography includes 7 recordings as leader and more than 50 recordings with other artists. In addition to his own recordings, his compositions and arrangements have been performed and recorded by such artists as Diva, Maurice Hines, The Pied Pipers, Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band, and Pete Petersen’s 23-strong Collection Jazz Orchestra. A clinician and guest artist for Getzen trombones, Whitfield has appeared throughout the world, from Australia to Zurich, sharing his expertise on trombone technique, improvisation, composition, arranging, and jazz history. He was featured as guest soloist with the United States Army Blues Jazz Ensemble at the 2007 Eastern Trombone Workshop. His transcription book “The J.J. Johnson Collection” (published by Hal Leonard) has inspired not only trombonists, but also jazz improvisers on many instruments, young and old. Upon settling in New York in 1993, Whitfield became a member of the Nat Adderley Sextet, which also included Jimmy Cobb, Walter Booker, Vincent Herring and Rob Bargad. The group’s engagements at Sweet Basil led to fruitful associations with Nnenna Freelon, Frank Wess, Lionel Hampton, Wayne Andre, and many others. Whitfield has also performed in many Broadway show orchestras, and backed the likes of Robert Goulet, Rita Moreno, Marilyn McCoo, Vic Damone, Jack Jones, and Frank Sinatra, Jr. Most recently, he was part of the orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl for a special seventieth birthday tribute to Nancy Wilson, which also featured Nnenna Freelon, Patti Austin, James Ingram, Tom Scott, Terence Blanchard, Natalie Cole, and a host of others. Whitfield served on the jazz faculty at Rutgers University from 1998 to 2002, teaching trombone, composition and arranging, and improvisation, while also coordinating the school’s combo program. During this period, one of his composition students placed third in a worldwide field of contestants in the Thad Jones International Jazz Composition Competition. The Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra (first founded in 1986, while Whitfield was pursuing his Master’s degree at North Texas State University) now has two incarnations: the SWJO East, based in New York; and the SWJO West, based in Los Angeles. Both of these aggregations feature the top players in the business. For more than a year, the Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra East was in residence at New York’s Birdland, the Jazz Corner of the World, culminating in the exciting “Live at Birdland” CD, released in April 2004 on Summit Records. “The Minute Game,” featuring the SWJO West, was released in February 2005, and features Whitfield’s groundbreaking composition “Hiccups.” Most recently, “Diamonds For Nat,” released in February 2006, is a special 75th Birthday tribute to Whitfield’s mentor, the late Nat Adderley, featuring the SWJO East once again. The CD skyrocketed to number five in jazz radio airplay in its third week! Although Scott Whitfield makes his home in Los Angeles, he continues to commute to New York for appearances. His playing, writing, and singing has been compared to that of some of his biggest influences, including Carl Fontana, Frank Rosolino, Thad Jones, Sammy Nestico, Mel Torme, and Jack Jones.
Joe Cartwright, Piano: Joe Cartwright makes his home in Mission, Kansas and is recognized as a proponent of ‘Kansas City Jazz.’ He is a graduate of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and currently serves as music director for Unity Village Chapel in Unity Village, Missouri. Joe has performed on and produced numerous recordings, many on his own label, Lafayette Music, including the 2017 release Out Of This World, featuring vocalist Molly Hammer. Some of his credits include work with jazz luminaries Eddie Harris, Christian McBride, Jeff Hamilton, John Clayton, Karrin Allyson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Kevin Mahogany and Mel Torme. Cartwright has per-formed for audiences in Africa, the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia as part of the USIA/Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador Touring Program. In the fall of 2012, the Joe Cartwright Quartet headlined the CCPA Jazz Festival in Asuncion, Paraguay as representatives of Kansas City Jazz.
Rick Haydon, Guitar: Rick Haydon is a Professor of Music at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville where he is head of the Guitar Program and manages the recording studio. He teaches Advanced Jazz Improvisation, Rhythm Section Workshop, Private Applied Jazz Guitar, supervises the Jazz Combo System, and directs the Jazz Guitar Ensemble. Rick has served on the summer faculties of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Band Director Academy, the Birch Creek Music Center and the Jim Widner Summer Jazz Camps. Rick has been playing guitar for forty years and has studied with many of the Masters of Jazz Guitar. Among these are, Johnny Smith, Howard Roberts, Pat Martino, and most recently Bucky Pizzarelli (7-string).Professor Haydon has been performing professionally for over thirty-five years and has played in a variety of situations. In 1996 he performed with Herb Ellis and Mundell Lowe during the Guitar Foundation of America International Guitar Convention. He performed with Bucky Pizzarelli before a sold out concert at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis in November of 1998. Rick was the featured guest artist at the 2002 Quad City Jazz Festival along with Mulgrew Miller. In 2004 Rick performed with John Pizzarelli at the Classic American Guitar Show in Long Island, New York as part of the Jazz Cabaret Series. Also Professor Haydon received the 2004 Woody Herman Award from the Birch Creek Music Performance Center in Door County, Wisconsin. His most recent recording titled Rick Haydon and John Pizzarelli ‘Just Friends’ for Mel Bay Records has recently reached 19 on the Jazz Week Top 100 charts.
Butch Miles, Drums: The accomplishments of drummer Butch Miles continue to attract worldwide attention. He has performed with such luminaries as Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dave Brubeck, Mel Torme, Lena Horne, Joe Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Benny Goodman, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Zubin Mehta, Itzak Pearlman, Dick Hyman, Willie Nelson and others, Butch displays the maturity of his experience with youthful imagination and unending energy. Butch conducts jazz clinics at universities and high schools, continues to record C.D.s and plays frequently in small group capacities at jazz parties and festivals around the globe where he brings together technique, creative finesse and a love of the music that delights audiences. As the drummer for the world-famous Count Basie Orchestra (1975-1979 and 1997-2007), Butch quickly became renowned for his swinging big band style and techniques. Butch has performed at the Newport Jazz Festival (now the “JVC Jazz Festival”) in New York since 1975 and the Grande Parade De Jazz in Nice, France nine times. He has performed at major jazz festivals around the world, including the Montreal Jazz Festival; North Sea Jazz Festival at the Hague, the Netherlands; the Montreux and Bern Jazz Festivals in Switzerland; the Berlin, Munich, Cologne and Stuttgart Jazz Festivals in Germany along with many tours throughout Europe, Australia, the Far East, the Americas and the Caribbean. In 1976, Butch played a Royal Command Performance for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II which was televised throughout all of Europe. Butch has recorded over 100 albums (see Discography) and has been on three (3) Grammy winning albums, along with being nominated numerous times for the European equivalent of the Grammy. He has appeared on “CBS 60 Minutes,” “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson, “The Merv Griffin Show,” “The Dick Cavett Show,” “the Mike Douglas Show” and six times on “the Jerry Lewis Telethon.” Internationally, Butch has made personal appearances on radio and televisions stations throughout the world. He has also appeared in three motion pictures: “The Australian Jazz Fest” filmed while Butch was touring Australia with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, “The Last of the Blue Devils” filmed on location while he was touring with the Count Basie Orchestra and briefly in Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Butch performed on the soundtrack of the 2003 film, The Alamo. He also travels for the Ludwig Drum Company giving clinics and concerts worldwide (Ludwig/Musser). Butch produced a C.D., Straight On Till Morning, in June, 2003, from Nagel-Heyer Records (Nagel-Heyer Records), Hamburg Germany. Butch was honored by the State of Texas Senate on March 3, 2005 for his many accomplishments in music. On October 15, 2011 Butch was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. Butch was also honored by the Senate of the State of West Virginia in 2013 and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Conn Selmer Institute in 2016 among many other awards from the Avedis Zildjian Cymbal Company, the Ludwig Drum Company, the International Association of Jazz Educators, the United States Air Force Band – the Airmen of Note, The Elkhart Jazz Festival and the Austin, Texas Jazz Society. He is currently a faculty member in jazz studies, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas. A graduate of West Virginia State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Butch lives near Austin, Texas, with his wife Linda.