[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The University of Arkansas at Monticello’s Jazz Band I and Jazz Combo have been invited to perform at the 48th annual Elmhurst College Jazz Festival in Chicago February 20-22.

UAM’s lead jazz ensembles will be performing at the festival for the third time since 2009.

The Elmhurst College Jazz Festival brings together the nation’s best college jazz bands for three days of performances and critiques from some of the biggest names in professional jazz.

“This is a huge honor and we look forward to returning to Elmhurst,” said Gary Meggs, director of Jazz Band I and creator of the UAM program in jazz studies. “This is a chance to compare and test ourselves against the best. It’s terrific exposure for our program and a wonderful experience for the students.”

Both UAM jazz ensembles will perform on the final day of the festival.

The festival has its origins in the American College Jazz Festival, which was established in 1968. The original festival took place at eight regional sites, one of which was Elmhurst College. When the national festival disbanded in 1973, the Elmhurst Festival continued and grew in size and stature. By 1992, the festival had hosted so many jazz greats that its silver anniversary reunion of guest artists and judges included Louie Bellson, Pete Christlieb, Conte Candoli, Terry Gibbs, Frank Mantooth, Bobby Shew, Clark Terry, Denis DiBlasio, Lee Konitz, and Jiggs Whigham.

Festival performers in recent years have included the Maria Schneider Orchestra, the Bob Mintzer Big Band, Diana Krall, Maynard Ferguson, and the Count Basie Orchestra.

UAM’s jazz program, the first of its kind in Arkansas, was founded in 2007, although the program’s foundation was already in place with three jazz bands and two seven-piece jazz combos. Meggs is one of three conductors for the UAM ensembles, along with guitarist Les Pack, a graduate of Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, and Claude Askew, a drummer who spent 21 years with the U.S. Air Force’s “Airmen of Note,” the last six years as band leader.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row]