VU Instructor Jeff Brown Breaks from Status Quo with Jazz Festival!

VU JeffImagine one of the world’s foremost jazz trumpeters Arturo Sandoval playing an original composition on a piano and then lifting his trumpet to “gorgeous” notes of improvisation.No, it’s not some fancy club, but an impromptu performance in front of awe-struck students at the Valparaiso University Jazz Festival, said Founder and jazz instructor Jeff Brown. This is where hundreds of middle and high school budding musicians, collegiate performers, and professionals come together once a year to jam jazz and share the joy of American’s oldest indigenous music form. The Valparaiso University Jazz Festival may be one of the longest running non-competitive college jazz festivals in the Midwest. Jeff broke new ground 31 years ago by launching a social and educational collaboration involving high school jazz players and professional musicians at the college level, and certainly in the region and state. He broke from the status quo from traditional festivals where students were judged on performing, a process Jeff found missing a beat. In 1985, he decided to launch a new direction from an “adjudicated format” of judging student performance to a “group social interaction model.” This encouraged active participation among students in all aspects of jazz through public performances, jam sessions, clinics, observation and chance encounters among students and professionals. Greats like the late Natalie Cole made one of her last performances at the 30th anniversary, and last year the great Count Basie Band performed. Now Jeff and his interns are preparing for the 32nd Jazz Festival this coming April to continue to give students a great jazz experience.

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