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Newberry College Hosts 61st Annual Jazz Festival

by Jay Salter - February 28, 2018


A record high 48 jazz bands from high schools throughout the state will converge at Newberry College on March 2 -3, 2018, for the 61st annual Newberry College Jazz Festival and 21st annual South Carolina Band Directors Association (SCBDA) Jazz Performance Assessment.


The Newberry College Jazz Festival is one of the longest consecutive running jazz festivals in the nation. The festival will include judge-rated performances and music workshops for the student ensembles participating in the SCBDA assessments.


The event features performances by the South Carolina All-State Jazz Band, South Carolina All-State Jazz Combo and the Newberry College Jazz Big Band with guest soloist Terell Stafford, a highly acclaimed trumpet player.


The All-State Jazz Band and All-State Jazz Combo will perform on the Newberry College campus at Wiles Chapel on Saturday, March 3, at 11:30 a.m., and 12:15 p.m., respectively. The Newberry College Jazz Big Band with guest soloist Terell Stafford, will perform at 1 p.m., also at Wiles Chapel. The concerts are free and open to the public.


The All-State Jazz Band and Combo are made up of high school students who have competitively auditioned for their seat. Their performances on Saturday will be the culmination of their work during the two-day event with guest clinicians Mark Taylor, former chief arranger for "Pershing's Own" United States Army Band, and Jeff Jarvis, director of Jazz Studies at the Bob Cole Conservatory at California State University, Long Beach.


"This will be a great experience for both the clinicians and the students participating in the clinic," said Dr. Jerry Gatch, director of bands and associate professor of Music at Newberry.


The Newberry College Jazz Big Band, under the direction of Gatch, will be joined by trumpeter, bandleader and recording artist Terell Stafford. Stafford also is director of Jazz Studies at Temple University and soloist for the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra in New York.


“Terell Stafford is a highly respected musician who is successfully recording and performing in the jazz genre all over,” Gatch said. “We’re very excited to have his participation in the festival.”


In addition to serving as guest soloist, Stafford will speak with the student participants about his path to becoming both a concert performer and a jazz performer and how he has achieved success in both areas.


“Three of the five selections the Newberry College Jazz Big Band will be performing on Saturday are compositions/arrangements by Terell Stafford,” Gatch said. “We’re delighted to have him as our featured soloist and excited to be able to play music that he has written.”


The Newberry College Jazz Festival was established in 1958 by long-time Newberry College band director Charles “Chief” Pruitt. It is one of the nation’s oldest continuing jazz festivals of its kind. Event organizer Dr. Jerry Gatch served as director of Bands at Lexington High School for 20 years before joining the Newberry College faculty in 2014.


"From my perspective as a music educator, it’s wonderful to welcome these music-loving students to Newberry College,” Gatch said. “I think experiences like the Jazz Festival plant a seed about their potential involvement in music in college at beyond. What they experience now can make Newberry College a very special place to them many years down the road.”


For a complete schedule of Saturday's events, please visit

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