TJC Jazz Festival performances set Feb. 28 and March 1

Matt Niess, a jazz trombonist who has performed with such musical greats as Doc Severinsen and Eartha Kitt, will be the guest artist for the annual TJC Jazz Festival.

He will share his considerable knowledge and performance skills with young musicians from area schools during the three-day festival, set Wednesday-Friday, Feb. 27-March 1, in Wise Auditorium on the TJC main campus.

Niess will perform with the TJC Jazz Ensembles at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday in Wise Auditorium.

Admission is free, and the public is invited to attend.

Niess serves as lead trombonist with The U.S. Army Blues Jazz Ensemble based in Washington, D.C. A native of Levittown, Pennsylvania, he earned an undergraduate degree in music education from West Chester University, a Master of Music in trombone performance from George Mason University and a Doctor of Musical Arts in performance from Catholic University of America.

He has taught on the jazz faculties of Shenandoah and Towson universities and served as director of jazz studies and professor of trombone at West Chester University from 2003 to 2007. With the Army Blues, he has served as senior producer and jazz coordinator of the Eastern Trombone Workshop producing over 200 concerts at various venues from the White House to the Monterey Jazz Festival. He is the founder and director of The Capitol Bones, a jazz trombone ensemble, which has received national recognition and was winner of the 1991 International Trombone Association Kai Winding Award.

Niess has appeared as a soloist, clinician and adjudicator at numerous jazz festivals, schools and universities.

“It’s always a big thrill for us to bring someone of Matt’s caliber to come and work with our students,” said Heather Mensch, TJC assistant director of bands and professor of low brass. Mensch is also director of TJC Jazz Ensemble 1.

“The students get an idea of what it’s like to be a real, working musician by learning from someone who’s spent years in the profession, honing his craft.”

TJC Jazz Ensemble 1 students and their hometowns are: Blane Benson, Longview; Isaac Bernardo, Kaufman; Taryn Blackerby, Troup; Jared Cockrum, Tyler;  Michael Conrado, Canton; Collin Damskov, Tyler; Ralph Devereaux, Whitehouse; Jonathan Olivares, Tyler; Parker Phillips, New Diana; Parker Rathbun, Tyler; Kaylen Rhodes, Springtown; Austin Stanberry, Rockwall; Travis Tankersley, Tyler; Jesus Valle, Jacksonville; Bethany Walker, Brownsboro; and Jay Wooten, Longview.

TJC Jazz Ensemble 2 is under the direction of Dr. Steven Meier, assistant director of bands and professor of woodwinds.

TJC Jazz Ensemble 2 students and their hometowns are: Hayden Bethany, Mansfield; Katie Burns, Dripping Springs; Jason Cooks, Tyler; Justin Cooks, Tyler; Dakota Epps, Marshall; Andrew Fitzgerald, Forney; Jordan Juarez, Hudson; Victoria Martinez, Tyler; Patrick McClain, Lindale; Jonathan Olivares, Tyler; Adrian Sanchez, Cleveland; Nick Schaefer, Canton; Zach Scott, Whitehouse; Jace Thomas, Chandler; Ray Valentin, Tyler; Brett Waggoner, Troup; David Wall, Springtown; and Cody Woods, Nevada.

The festival will include music clinics and performances by jazz bands from area middle schools, high schools and universities. Each group will perform for about 20 minutes, and then Niess will join them onstage and offer a critique of their performance.

The public is invited to attend the daytime clinics and performances, and admission is free.

Festival schedule:

Wednesday, Feb. 27, Wise Auditorium
• 6:30 p.m.: Robert E. Lee High School Jazz Ensemble 2
• 7:20 p.m.: Robert E. Lee Jazz Ensemble 1
• 8:10 p.m.: Robert E. Lee Jazz Combo

Thursday, Feb. 28, Wise Auditorium
• 9 a.m.: Three Lakes Middle School
• 10 a.m.: Boulter Middle School
• 11 a.m.: Azle High School Ensemble 1
• 1 p.m.: Azle High School Ensemble 2
• 2 p.m.: Moore Middle School
• 3 p.m.: Whitehouse High School
• 4 p.m.: Brazos High School
• 6:30 p.m.: Pre-concert performance by Souled-Out Jazz Orchestra
• 7 p.m.: TJC Jazz Ensembles with Matt Niess and George Faber

Friday, March 1, Wise Auditorium
• 9 a.m.: UT Tyler
• 10 a.m.: Chapel Hill High School
• 11 a.m.: Kaufman High School
• 1 p.m.: Brownsboro High School
• 2 p.m.: Mount Vernon High School
• 3 p.m.: Redwater High School
• 4 p.m.: LeTourneau University
• 6:30 p.m.: Pre-concert performance by Rose City Jazz Orchestra
• 7 p.m.: TJC Jazz Ensembles with Matt Niess and George Faber

For more on TJC bands, go to TJC.edu/band.

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