The 48th Annual Elmhurst College Jazz Festival

Featured Performers

Elmhurst College Jazz Festival

The 47th installment of the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival was one of our best yet! Click on the names below to read more about the world-class artists who performed at the Festival.

The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra directed by Scotty Barnhart (SOLD OUT)
Andy Martin
Bobby Shew
Gary Smulyan
Ryan Truesdell and the Gil Evans Project


The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra directed by Scotty Barnhart

William "Count" Basie started the Count Basie Orchestra in 1935, in Kansas City, Missouri. Within a year, America was listening in on popular radio shows throughout the country to hear what would become "The Swingingest Band In All The Land"! A phenomena was born in 1935, and it is still going strong today. Since Basie's passing in 1984, Thad Jones, Frank Foster, Grover Mitchell, Bill Hughes, Dennis Mackrel, and now Scotty Barnhart have led the Count Basie Orchestra and maintained it as one of the elite performing organizations in jazz. The Count Basie Orchestra has won 17 Grammy Awards and 20 Downbeat and Jazz Times polls - more than any other big band in jazz.

Friday night's Count Basie Orchestra concert is SOLD OUT - tickets are no longer available.

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Andy Martin

Andy Martin is one of the most in-demand trombonists in the country and around the world. His sparkling bebop lines and consummate musicianship make him equally at home on the stage or in the studio, and he maintains a busy schedule in Los Angeles as a recording artist, sideman, and section player.  Andy is a current member of Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, the Tom Kubis Band, and the Bill Holman Big Band, and he has released twelve albums as leader or co-leader.  His commercial credits include recordings with Coldplay and Michael Bublé, the house band for Dancing with the Stars and American Idol, the television soundtracks of Family Guy and King of the Hill, and the movie soundtracks of Tin Tin, Rush Hour, Planet of the Apes, Monsters, Inc., Cars, and Spiderman.  

Mr. Martin's exciting improvisations and melodic fluidity showcase a level of technique hardly matched among trombonists, and we are eager to host him for his first experience as guest artist/adjudicator at the Festival. He will perform on Thursday, February 20 as part of the High School Invitational and on Sunday, February 23 in a feature performance.

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Bobby Shew

Bobby Shew is a veteran of the music industry and a real legend of the trumpet.  He has performed with Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Bill Holman, Oliver Nelson, Maynard Ferguson, and innumerable other big bands, and his soundtrack recording credits read like an index of the 20th century's most popular movies and television shows.  Bobby is also a master educator - he conducts clinics around the world and is on the board of directors of the International Trumpet Guild.  He never stops using his remarkable insight, sensitivity, and creativity to inspire the next generation of jazz players and teachers.

Our 47th Festival marks Mr. Shew's eighth appearance as guest artist/adjudicator. He will perform on Thursday, February 20 as part of the High School Invitational and on Sunday, February 23 in a feature performance.

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Gary Smulyan

Winner of the 2011 DownBeat Critics Poll and 2011 JazzTimes Readers and Critics Polls for baritone saxophone, Gary Smulyan is recognized as the major voice on his instrument.  His playing is marked by an aggressive rhythmic sense, an intelligent and creative harmonic approach, and a strong and incisive wit.  His career has seen membership in Woody Herman's Young Thundering Herd, the Mingus Big Band, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, with which his weekly Monday night Village Vanguard gigs continue to this day.  Always in search of new ideas, in 2008 he released High Noon - The Jazz Soul of Frankie Laine, a nine piece band tribute to the prolific 1940's and '50's pop singer Frankie Laine.

We welcome Mr. Smulyan to the Festival for his fourth appearance as guest artist/adjudicator. He will perform on Thursday, February 20 as part of the High School Invitational and on Sunday, February 23 in a feature performance.

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Ryan Truesdell and the Gil Evans Project

The Gil Evans Project was born out of composer/producer Ryan Truesdell’s desire to restore and perform Gil Evans’ music directly from Gil’s original manuscripts. The magic of Gil’s writing lies in the details, and without his original scores, it is nearly impossible to accurately perform his music as originally intended. After years of painstaking research, countless hours of preparation, and with full support from the Evans family, Ryan Truesdell and the Gil Evans Project have made it possible, for the first time, to perform Gil’s music in its purest form: directly from his manuscripts. Throughout his research, Ryan discovered over fifty new, never-before-heard Evans compositions and arrangements dating from the 1940s through the 1980s. In celebration of Gil’s 100th birthday on May 13, 2012, Truesdell recorded ten of these works which were released on the album Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans. It is this new music, performed by Truesdell's New York-based big band, that we present in concert at the Festival.  

Ryan Truesdell is a composer of diverse musical tastes and influences with a healthy reverence for jazz tradition and an ever-broadening sonic palette. He composes and arranges music for an eclectic variety of ensembles, and his commissions include arrangements for Ingrid Jensen, Frank Kimbrough, and a new piece for Bob Brookmeyer’s 80th birthday concert at the Eastman School of Music.  He also works closely with Maria Schneider as both her primary copyist and as a valuable studio resource: he was production assistant and co-producer for her albums Concert in the Garden and Sky Blue, respectively. We are excited to present Ryan Truesdell and the Gil Evans Project at the Festival for the very first time, on Saturday Night, February 22.

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