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Jazz fills the campus air

March 07, 2014 2:45PM

Jazz great Bob Mintzer talks to students at the 40th annual PSU Jazz Festival on March 7.

Hundreds of student jazz musicians from Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma were on the Pitt State campus Friday for what organizers believe may be the largest one-day jazz festival in the Midwest. Officials said 66 bands were scheduled to perform.

For many students, the highlight of the day may have been a presentation by jazz great and Emmy Award winner Bob Mintzer. Mintzer and his Big Band were also the headliners for the evening concert.

The PSU Jazz Festival, under the direction of Bob Kehle, celebrated it’s 40th year, this year. Kehle gave credit for much of the festival’s success to Russell “Rusty” Jones, the current department chair, who is entering phased retirement at the end of the academic year.

Jones began the festival in 1974. Just 14 bands attended that year. In the years since, the festival has grown in size and reputation to the point that four sites are required to accommodate all of the performance venues needed. The festival has brought a long list of A-list talent to Pittsburg, including groups as Louis Bellson, Maynard Ferguson and His Big Bop Nouveau, The U. S. Air Force Airmen of Note, the Count Basie Band, the Roy Hargrove Quartet, Jon Faddis with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and the Steve Turre Quartet.

The PSU Jazz Ensemble opens the evening concert and Jones was to be featured in a ballad by Hollywood composer Pat Williams.

©2014 Pittsburg State University