The annual Jazz Unlimited Festival has become a popular venue for high school music departments throughout the Northwest to strut their stuff every spring.
The event, which starts April 10 at Columbia Basin College, will feature guest artist jazz trombonist John Fedchock.
About 5,200 music students from around the Northwest will converge on CBC April 10-11 and 17-18 for the competition. Jazz bands and choirs as well as concert choirs compete. The meets start at 8 a.m. each day and end with an evening performance.
The Fedchock concert starts at 7:30 p.m. April 10 in the Gregson Auditorium at Pasco High School. Admission is $15 or $10 for students and seniors. Tickets are at Ted Brown Music off North Columbia Center Boulevard or at the door.
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Another concert, featuring Ryan Hubbs and Friends, starts at 7:30 p.m. April 15 in the CBC theater. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
Jazz Unlimited Festival was first organized in 1971 under the eye of Tri-City music teacher Don Paul. Paul was a teacher at Kennewick High at the time, which is where the competition was first held.
Nine high school jazz bands took part in the contest the first few years. The festival took its name from the unlimited hydroplane races because its early sponsor was the Tri-Cities Water Follies Association.
When Paul took a job with CBC in 1973, the festival moved to the college along with him. The college took over sponsorship from the follies organization but the name remained, said Bill McKay, arts and humanities director at CBC.
The jazz choir portion of the festival was added in 1974 by the late Byron Gjerde, a CBC teacher. Then in 1986, a concert choir portion was added by Steve Baer, McKay said.
Those nine bands have grown to 93 bands and 83 choirs competing in Jazz Unlimited, which is the maximum that CBC can accommodate, McKay added.
"Our evening events are becoming very popular with the public," McKay said. "Having the chance to hear performers like John Fedchock, one of the finest trombonists of our day, is a wonderful opportunity for the public and the participants alike."
McKay also was thrilled that Pasco recently passed a proclamation that made April Jazz Appreciation Month. "We are delighted to support the city of Pasco's proclamation. It doesn't get any cooler than that," he said.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org