The 48th Annual Elmhurst College Jazz Festival

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Featured Performers

Elmhurst College Jazz Festival

The 48th installment of the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival is shaping up to be one of our best yet! Click on the names below to read more about these world-class performers.

Jimmy Heath & the Jimmy Heath Big Band
Bill Holman
Sean Jones
Ralph Lalama
Dennis Mackrel


Jimmy Heath & the Jimmy Heath Big Band

Bill Holman is a leading voice in modern big band composition & arranging.  He has contributed pieces to bands led by Louie Bellson, Count Basie, Terry Gibbs, Woody Herman, Bob Brookmeyer, Buddy Rich, Gerry Mulligan, and Doc Severinsen, among others, and has also written for such singers as Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett, Carmen McRae, Mel Tormé, Woody Herman, Anita O'Day, Sarah Vaughan, and June Christy.  
Holman started the Bill Holman Band in 1975.  The band’s recordings include 1988's The Bill Holman Band, 1995's A View From The Side (for which Holman won a Best Instrumental Composition Grammy for the title track), 1997's Brilliant Corners: The Music of Thelonious Monk, 2005’s Live, and 2007’s Hommage.
The Bill Holman Band’s 2015 performance marks their fourth appearance at the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival

Jimmy Heath has long been recognized as a brilliant instrumentalist and a magnificent composer and arranger.  Jimmy is the middle brother of the legendary Heath Brothers (Percy Heath, bass, and Tootie Heath, drums), and is the father of Mtume.   He has performed with nearly all the jazz greats of the last 50 years, from Howard McGhee, Dizzy Gillespie, and Miles Davis to Wynton Marsalis. He has performed on more than 100 albums including seven with the Heath Brothers and twelve as a leader.

Mr. Heath just concluded eleven years as Professor of Music at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and he now maintains an extensive performance schedule, including performances and clinics around the world.  He is, quite simply, a legend, and we are proud to present Jimmy Heath and the Jimmy Heath Big Band in concert at our Festival for the first time, on Friday February 20.

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Bill Holman

Bill Holman is a leading voice in modern big band composition & arranging.  He has contributed pieces to bands led by Louie Bellson, Count Basie, Terry Gibbs, Woody Herman, Bob Brookmeyer, Buddy Rich, Gerry Mulligan, and Doc Severinsen, among others, and has also written for such singers as Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett, Carmen McRae, Mel Tormé, Woody Herman, Anita O'Day, Sarah Vaughan, and June Christy.

Holman started the Bill Holman Band in 1975.  The band’s recordings include 1988's The Bill Holman Band, 1995's A View From The Side (for which Holman won a Best Instrumental Composition Grammy for the title track), 1997's Brilliant Corners: The Music of Thelonious Monk, 2005’s Live, and 2007’s Hommage.

The Bill Holman Band’s 2015 performance marks their fourth appearance at the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival.

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Sean Jones

At the leading edge of contemporary jazz, trumpeter Sean Jones is an in-demand performer and educator.  On Wynton Marsalis' invitation, he played lead trumpet in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra until 2010.  In 2011, he was selected by Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, and Wayne Shorter to perform on their Tribute to Miles tour.  His current focus performance focus is upon the quartet on his latest CD, im.pro.vise = never before seen.

He is on faculty at Duquesne University and Oberlin Conservatory, he conducts master classes and clinics around the world, and he serves as Artistic Director of both the Pittsburgh and Cleveland Jazz Orchestras.

Mr. Jones serves as guest artist/adjudicator and will participate in the High School Invitational on Thursday February 19 and in a feature performance on Sunday February 22.  We welcome him for his first appearance at our Festival.

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Ralph Lalama

A solid fixture of the New York jazz scene and respected world-wide, Ralph Lalama embodies the best of the jazz sound ideal: great time and great swing, expressed through great melodic ideas. He excels in a chord-less trio format with his amazing harmonic command, but he is also a solid veteran of large ensembles, including those of Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, the Mel Lewis Orchestra, and now the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

He is a three-time Grammy winner through his work in the Joe Lovano Nonet and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and his latest release 2012's Bop Juice: Ralph Lalama Trio, Live at Smalls.

Mr. Lalama has appeared at the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival before (with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra), but we welcome him this year for his first appearance as guest artist/adjudicator.  He will perform in the High School Invitational on Thursday February 19 and in a feature performance on Sunday February 22..

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Dennis Mackrel

Drummer/composer/arranger Dennis Mackrel was born in 1962 and began playing the drums at the age of two.  In 1981 Dennis moved to New York City and landed a gig as a drummer on Broadway.  In 1983 he joined the Count Basie Orchestra on the personal recommendation of Joe Williams, whose attention Dennis caught as a member of the University of Las Vegas Jazz Ensemble.  He would become the youngest member of the Orchestra and the last drummer to be hired by Mr. Basie personally, and from 2010 to 2013 he served as leader of the Count Basie Orchestra.

Mr. Mackrel serves as guest artist/adjudicator, and he will perform on Thursday, February 19 as part of the High School Invitational and on Sunday, February 22 in a feature performance.

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