The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

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Jazzuits present annual vocal jazz fest with guest Kirby Shaw

This Saturday, April 28, the Le Moyne Jazzuits will present their annual vocal jazz fest featuring local high school jazz ensembles and special guest Kirby Shaw.

Shaw is known worldwide for more than 2,500 choral arrangements and compositions, which have sold close to 20 million copies. In addition, Shaw has scatted with figures like Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau and Chris Calloway, has been a part of the creation of many educational recordings and is a member of Just 4 Kicks, a four-man a cappella jazz ensemble.

“I’m very excited about bringing Kirby here,” Jazzuits director Carol Jacobe said. “Every educator has taught his compositions and arrangements of pop, vocal jazz, show choir and concert choir repertoire. I had the opportunity to work with Kirby over 30 years ago when I was new to the vocal jazz field.”

Jacobe first got in touch with Shaw about the festival as she sought after an arrangement of his.

“I was in contact with Kirby last year trying to get a copy of one of his out-of-print arrangements,” Jacobe noted. “And as we communicated back and forth, I thought, why not ask him if he would be willing to come to N.Y. and work at our festival? He was very excited and the process began.

“I hope everyone will enjoy him as much as I did 30 years ago,” she added. “He will bring a vast amount of experience with him and it will be great to watch someone of his caliber work.”

The night before the event, the Jazzuits will work with Shaw on a number of songs, some of them his own arrangements.

“It will be fun to see what he does with them,” Jacobe said.

The vocal jazz fest will consist of a performance from each high school ensemble followed by a workshop with Shaw. Later on, the ensembles (as well as the Jazzuits) will form two groups to work with Shaw on his arrangements of “Route 66” and “Higher Ground.” The day will end with an evening concert featuring each group and a performance from the Jazzuits.

“The festival is a great learning opportunity for everyone,” Jacobe said. “It gives our ensemble a chance to be a part of this large project. Everyone will be involved at some level to help make the day run smoothly.”

Jacobe hopes the festival will be one of many factors to help keep vocal jazz going.

“When I retired from teaching from the public school system, my goal was to keep vocal jazz alive in New York State,” Jacobe said. “This is still a very young concept in our part of the country. Many educators are afraid to tackle it. Most of that fear comes from not being prepared in college to teach this style. I work around the state judging, conducting all-county groups and doing workshops to foster this style of music.”

“It is America’s music and we need to make everyone aware of it,” she continued. “Vocal jazz is exciting. It’s the only vocal music where you can be creative. Unlike classical music, where everything you do is on the printed page, the page of music is just the beginning for jazz.”

The vocal jazz fest will take place Saturday, April 28, in the James Commons, with Kirby Shaw’s workshops from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the evening concert starting at 7:30 p.m. The festival is free and open to the public.

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