Sun Prairie Jazz Festival swings through pandemic

The Annual Sun Prairie Jazz Festival went virtual to allow the festival to continue.

The Annual Sun Prairie Jazz Festival embraced a new format for this year. As the pandemic limits how students and teachers can interact as musicians sessions went virtual to allow the festival to continue.

“Jazz has always found a way,” said Sun Prairie High School teacher Matt McVeigh, “Through depression, and war, and civil rights, and even pandemic, the nature of this music is to be innovative and to persevere.”

Throughout the weekend students were able to access eleven sessions including masterclasses on each instrument, and several jazz improvisation sessions. Clinicians included Reggie Thomas-piano, Rick Haydon-guitar, Jeff Campbell-bass, Jim Huwe-drums, Doug Stone-saxophone, Eric Jacobson-trumpet, and Steve Horne-trombone. Jazz Improvisation sessions included “Finding Lyricism through the Blues” with Reggie Thomas, “Stepping Stones: Strategies for Internalizing Tunes” with Doug Stone, “Jazz Patterns: A Systemic Approach to Improvisation,” with Eric Jacobson, and “Improvising on the Drum set” with Jim Huwe.

In addition to students from Sun Prairie High School and Cardinal Heights, students from West DePere High School, Fond du Lac High School, Cedarburg High School, Oak Creek High School logged on for the event.

“We really hope to be live again next year,” added McVeigh. “I think the nature of education and music specifically is to connect with people — so this event is really meeting that mission when we can all collaborate in person and we hope to do that next February.” The festival will celebrate its 30th year in February of 2022.

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