The University of Minnesota, Morris is steeped in a tradition of high quality jazz music. Under the direction of Jason Squinobal, Morris has two large jazz ensembles and numerous jazz combos for academic credit. The ensembles consist of both music majors and non majors who are interested in furthering their knowledge of jazz music while fine-tuning their musicianship and communication and leadership skills through practice, rehearsals, recordings, and performance opportunities.
Along with the curricular aspects of the ensembles, the Morris jazz program takes an active role in promoting jazz in the community as well as nationally and internationally. Over the past 20 years, the Morris jazz ensembles have performed for many music conventions including the MMEA convention in Minneapolis and the NCMENC in Chicago. Most recently, the ensembles have travelled to the Elmhurst Jazz Festival in Elmhurst, Illinois (2011, 2012) as well as state high school tours involving clinics and master classes. They have also performed internationally at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland (1991, 1997, 2000, 2004, and 2008), The North Sea Jazz Festival at The Hague, Netherlands (1994, 1997, and 2008), the Vienne Jazz Festival in Vienne, France (2004), and at Carnegie Hall with The Count Basie Orchestra (1992). The Jazz Ensembles schedule tours and have performed throughout the state of Minnesota.
The Jazz Festival, founded by Jim “Doc” Carlson, is in its 35th year. The educational, noncompetitive event attracts world-renowned jazz artists to Morris each spring. High school, community, and college jazz ensembles are invited to take part in three days of clinics and master classes by internationally recognized musicians. Each day concludes with a feature performance of the Morris jazz ensembles and the guest artists.
Photographs by Denise Vokoun and Morgan Dresch