Each fall, Whitworth’s aspiring jazz musicians perform with some of the greatest professional jazz saxophonists, pianists, trumpeters and trombonists. The annual jazz ensemble concert has brought a slew of Grammy-winning performers to campus, including the late jazz pianist Gene Harris, as well as trumpeters Arturo Sandoval and Terrence Blanchard, and saxophonists Joshua Redman and Chris Potter. While on campus, each artist leads a free jazz clinic for Whitworth students, as well as local students and the general public.
“Imagine a small Division III basketball program bringing in Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and other NBA legends to work with the team during each season,” said saxophonist and Christopher Parkin, ’05, who majored in instrumental performance and is now a senior lecturer for Whitworth. “This is what the Whitworth Jazz Studies Program offers to students. Pretty amazing, to say the least.”
The concerts are largely due to Whitworth Jazz Ensemble Director Dan Keberle, who joined the music faculty in 1988 and went straight to work building Whitworth’s jazz program. After his first year on the job, Keberle brought to campus Bill Berry, a former trumpeter with Duke Ellington, to perform as a guest artist with the band. The tradition continued, along with regular ensemble performance tours to Rome, Munich, Brazil, Cuba, Australia and around the U.S.
“All of our guest artists have been incredible performers and very inspirational to our jazz students,” Keberle said. “Over the years, former students tell me how deeply and positively they were affected by various guest jazz artists.”
Whitworth hosts Arturo Sandoval this year on Nov. 7. Click for more info.