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2016 Jazz Fest

38th Annual Jazz Festival

Friday & Saturday April 8 & 19, 2016


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 trumpeter Brian Lynch as the featured guest artist and pianist Bryan Nichols, bassist Chris Bates, and drummer Brian Claxton as the guest artists/clinicians. 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.

For further information please contact Makiko Legate at

Featured Guest Artists

Brian Lynch

A vital force and emergent legend within both the hardcore straight ahead and Latin Jazz communities, Grammy© Award Winner Brian Lynch is as comfortable negotiating the complexities of clave with Afro-Caribbean pioneer Eddie Palmieri as he is swinging through advanced harmony with bebop maestro Phil Woods. A honored graduate of two of the jazz world’s most distinguished academies, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the Horace Silver Quintet, he has been a valued collaborator with jazz artists such as Benny Golson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and Charles McPherson; Latin music icons as diverse as Hector LaVoe and Lila Downs; and pop luminaries such as Prince. As a bandleader and recording artist he has released 19 critically acclaimed CDs featuring his distinctive composing and arranging, and toured the world with various ensembles reflecting the wide sweep of his music. He currently is Professor of Jazz Trumpet at the Frost School Of Music, University of Miami as well as conducting clinics, residencies and workshops at prestigious institutions of learning the world over. His talents have been recognized by top placing in the Downbeat Critics and Readers Polls (#3 Trumpet 2011 Critics Poll); highly rated reviews for his work in Downbeat, Jazziz and Jazz Times; 2005 and 2007 Grammy award nominations, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, and Meet The Composer.

Guest Artists/Clinicians

Bryan Nichols

Bryan Nichols is a Minneapolis-based pianist and composer, working primarily in jazz and improvised music. He returned to the Twin Cities in 2005 after four busy years in Chicago where he played with jazz heavyweights like Nicole Mitchell, Ernest Dawkins, Von Freeman and Hamid Drake. Since returning to Minneapolis, he leads and composes for his own trio, his quintet and his large group, We Are Many. He also plays regularly with Gang Font, Kelly Rossum Quartet, James Buckley Trio, and Zacc Harris Quartet, in addition to being an in-demand freelancer. He teaches jazz piano at MacPhail Center for Music and University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and he was also recently named artistic director of Jazz is NOW!, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit supporting regional music and composers.

Bryan was awarded a 2010-11 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians, a prestigious and competitive award given to Minnesota musicians. He was also awarded a 2004 residency by Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center, given to outstanding, emerging jazz performer/composers. His work as a composer earned him a subito grant from the American Composers Forum. He has performed at most music venues in the Twin Cities and Chicago, in addition to international festivals including Sons d’Hiver (Paris, France) and Kerava Jazz Festival (Kerava, Finland) as well as local and regional festivals including the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Minnesota Sur Seine Festival. Bryan appears on recent recordings by James Buckley, Gang Font, Chris Morrissey, Gordon Johnson, Kelly Rossum, Todd Clouser, Gayngs and many more. In May 2011 Bryan released his debut recording as a leader, Bright Places, containing nine original compositions for his quintet.

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.

Brian Claxton

Drummer Brian Claxton is on faculty at Metropolitan State University of Denver and Colorado Christian University and performs frequently throughout Colorado. Claxton earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire where he performed with the Downbeat award winning UW-Eau Claire Jazz 1, and also earned a Masters Degree and is currently a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Northern Colorado where he has won two Downbeat Awards with UNC Lab 1, and has performed with the UNC Vanguard Combo throughout the United States and in China.