University of Minnesota Morris
Take a Virtual Campus Tour Schedule a Visit Request Info

2015 Jazz Fest

37th Annual Jazz Festival

Friday & Saturday April 10 & 11, 2015, 7:30 p.m.


The University of Minnesota Morris Jazz Fest boasts a long-standing tradition of excellence in both the daytime educational activates and the high-quality nightly performances. Dating back to 1978, the UMM Jazz Fest is one of the longest continuously occurring annual high school jazz festivals. The Jazz Fest consists of two parts. Each day from 9:00 a.m.—4:00 p.m. high school jazz ensembles perform and participate in rehearsal style clinics with the Jazz Fest guest artists. The high school performances are non-competitive, and each ensemble receives a certificate of participation, a DVD of their performance and comment sheets. The second part of the Jazz Fest takes place in the evening where the UMM Jazz Ensembles perform with the guest artists as soloists, in an evening concert.

This year, the UMM Jazz Fest will welcome saxophonist Rob Haight and guitarist Scott Hesse along with regional clinicians bassist Chris Bates and drummer JT Bates. All four guests artists are not only exception performers, they are also dedicated to jazz education. As always, the emphasis of this year’s Jazz Fest will be on providing an exceptional learning opportunities and performing experiences for high school and college music students. The guest artists will be working with the bands, presenting educational clinics, and performing with UMM’s Jazz Ensembles at evening concerts.

Guest Artists

Rob Haight

Saxophonist Rob Haight attended Interlochen Arts Academy and Western Michigan University, and he completed his degree in music at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. In 2013 Haight completed an Artist Diploma degree at The Juilliard School.

He has studied saxophone, improvisation, and composition with Steve Wilson, Ron Blake, Bill Sears, Trent Kynaston, Rick Holland, Jerry DiMuzio, David Bloom, Scott Mason, Mike Smith, Tom Garling and Mark Colby. Mr. Haight has performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra featuring Patti Austin, Doc Severinsen and Marvin Hamlisch; Chuchito Valdez; Michael Feinstein; Dana Hall; Ernie Adams; Charles Heath; Robert Irving III; Umphreys McGee; Ann Hampton Callaway; John Fedchock; the Elgin Symphony; and the Sabertooth Organ Quartet, led by Cameron Pfiffner and Pat Mallinger. Mr. Haight performs frequently with Jeff Lindberg's Chicago Jazz Orchestra and is featured on the new Spare Parts album 'Bright Minor' and Ian Torres Big Band album 'January' both available on CD Baby and iTunes as well as his first album as a leader, 'Emerge' which is available for download on iTunes and Google Play.

He has appeared not only at various venues in Chicago, New York and at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. but has also performed and/or given master classes as a member of the Juilliard Artist Diploma quintet in Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Amsterdam.

Scott Hesse

Guitarist Scott Hesse is a well-respected figure in the Chicago jazz community. Known especially for his harmonic and rhythmic inventiveness, Scott is equally at home in straight-ahead or avant garde settings. Since moving to the Windy City in 2005, Scott has played at every major jazz venue in the area. He has also garnered international attention while playing jazz festivals throughout Europe with Dee Alexander’s Evolution Ensemble. As a leader, Scott has four recordings, and appears on a host of others. His latest release entitled The Stillness of Motion features Clark Sommers on bass and Makaya McCraven on drums.

Currently, Scott is also involved in a number of projects including Dee Alexander's Evolution Ensemble, the Evolution Arkestra, the Marlene Rosenberg Quartet (MRQ), the Stafford James String Ensemble, Vincent Davis' Percussion Plus, and the Victor Garcia Organ Group, and the Rajiv Halim Group. In addition to performing, Scott is an avid composer and music instructor. Since 2007, Scott has led the guitar program at Eastern Illinois University. In 2009, he joined the faculty at Harold Washington College in Chicago. Scott is also a frequent guest clinician at Lane Tech High School in Chicago, where he was commissioned twice to write pieces for their guitar ensemble. Scott holds a BA in Cultural Studies from Empire State College in New York and a Master’s Degree in composition from DePaul University in Chicago.

Chris Bates

Beginning on the upright bass in 4th grade Chris Bates has been on a lifelong journey of musical discovery. Chris spent over 15 years studying the instrument with noted classical pedagogue James Clute of the Minnesota Orchestra and reknowned jazz bassist Anthony Cox. Self taught on the electric bass Chris has always pushed himself to explore new musical styles from around the world and has blossomed into a very creative and supportive bassist. Raised on a healthy dose of big band jazz and progressive rock Chris’ chameleonic playing has evolved to encompass reggae, funk, country, folk, jazz and classical music. Whether playing a complex multi meter jazz work or grooving on the root 5 of a traditional country song Chris’s sound and feel provides the proper support for any situation.

As a first call bassist in the Midwest, Chris Bates has played with many wonderful musicians including Mose Allison, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, Steven Bernstein, Tony Hymas, Howard Levy, Michael Attias, Anton Fier, Bill Carrothers, Joel Harrison, Eric Alexander, Tim Sparks and Dean Magraw. During the 90’s Chris played with the Motion Poets, touring nationally and releasing three albums to wide critical acclaim. Mr. Bates recieved a McKnight Composers Fellowship for his compostions in 1999. Chris has played on over 30 albums and brings and unbridled joy and enthusiasm to every musical situation he plays in. In Sept 2012 Chris released his first solo album ‘New Hope’ featuring all original compositions performed by the Chris Bates’ Red 5. In addition to Red 5 Chris is leading the Good Vibes trio and remains involved in several bands: Atlantis Quartet, Red Planet, Framework, Enormous and Todd Clouser’s ‘A Love Electric’. Look out in 2014 for the Good Vibes album and the digital release of the fabled Grease Gun sessions feat; Jt and Chris Bates with Dave King and Anthony Cox.

JT Bates

JT Bates began taking drum lessons in Hopkins at the age of 7, with a caveat by his band director father that he also take piano lessons as well, a combination of talents that still informs and influences his playing to this day. “I didn’t like [piano] at the time, but I’m really glad I did it now. It helps my drumming. Because of that, I hear intervals and I understand that side of music, besides just rhythm.”

Bates has two older brothers—Dave, a recording engineer in Nashville, and Chris, who also is a prominent Twin Cities musician—who also helped shape his musical direction. He first played live in his dad’s 17-piece big band when he was just 14 years old, along with both Dave and Chris.” Everyone I knew played an instrument, so it just seemed really natural to me. Being in a band never seemed like an un-navigable thing to me, it was more like ‘everyone plays an instrument, right?’”

In addition to his family, Bates found inspiration in the early experimental music scene in Minneapolis lead by Milo Fine, Steve Gnitka, and Anthony Cox, who he and his friends would marvel at during performances at the West Bank School of Music. When Bates was a junior in high school, he met both Adam Linz and Mike Lewis through area jazz camps or “other various summertime activities,” and the trio (who would eventually go on to form Fat Kid Wednesdays) quickly bonded over their shared love of John Coltrane and experimental music, a lasting creative partnership which continues to flourish to this day. After forming the successful experimental group the Motion Poets in the early ’90s along with his brother Chris and a few other friends, Bates eventually settled in to hosting (with his Fat Kid Wednesdays bandmates) a longstanding improvisational Monday night jazz residency at Turf Club’s fabled Clown Lounge, a thriving creative partnership that would help foster and encourage the local experimental music scene for over 12 years, until 2011.