42nd Anniversary Jazz Festival welcomes clarinetist Chris Vadala, trumpeter Vince DiMartino

Special to HuntingtonNews.Net
42nd Anniversary Jazz Festival welcomes clarinetist Chris Vadala, trumpeter Vince DiMartino

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University’s annual Jazz Festival will feature two guest artists, clarinetist Chris Vadala and trumpeter Vince DiMartino, as well as faculty combo Bluetrane and several student jazz ensembles. The festival begins Thursday, Jan. 27, and concludes Saturday, Jan. 29, in the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse on Marshall’s Huntington campus.

Marshall’s event is one of the longest running collegiate jazz festivals in the United States, having begun in 1970, said Dr. Ed Bingham, professor of music and director of jazz studies at Marshall. Artists such as Clark Terry, Gary Burton, Stan Kenton, Eddie Daniels, Maynard Ferguson, Arturo Sandoval, Herbie Mann and Sergio Mendes, as well as ensembles such as Woody Herman and the Thundering Herd, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra and the DIVA Big Band have performed with Marshall’s jazz ensembles.

Vadala and DiMartino were classmates at the esteemed Eastman School of Music, Bingham added, and their “reunion” promises to be a memorable experience for everyone. The guest artists will perform with the following Marshall groups:

  • Bluetrane is Marshall’s faculty jazz combo, whose name pays homage to the jazz great, John Coltrane, and includes, in addition to Bingham, Marshall music faculty members Dr. Martin Saunders, Dr. Michael Stroeher, Dr. Sean Parsons, Dr. Mark Zanter and Steve Hall. They perform throughout West Virginia and the surrounding states and will be featured on the festival’s Thursday and Friday evening concerts.

  • The MU Jazz Ensemble has performed at jazz festivals in Montreux, Switzerland; Juan les Pins, France; The Jazz Education Network Inaugural Conference; the Notre Dame Jazz Festival and many others. It travels throughout the region to perform in schools and community centers. The group will present the final concert of the festival on Saturday evening when Vadala and DiMartino join them.

Jazz education is a major part of the festival,” Bingham said. “High school and middle school jazz bands from West Virginia and the surrounding states participate in a non-competitive performance clinic. Following each ensemble’s appearance on the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse stage, the guest clinicians critique the performance and offer suggestions for improvement.”

Select students attending the festival participate in the Thundering Herd Jazz All-Stars. This ensemble, under the direction of Parsons, performs in the festival finale concert on Saturday evening.  The All-Stars represent the best players from the participating schools and many MU Jazz Ensemble members are alumni of the Thundering Herd All-Stars.

One of the country’s foremost woodwind artists, Vadala is in demand as a jazz/classical performer and educator. He has appeared on more than 100 recordings to date, as well as innumerable jingle sessions, film and TV scores, performing on all the saxophones, flutes, and clarinets. A native of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., he graduated from the Eastman School of Music, earning the honor of the performer’s certificate in saxophone as well as a B.M. in Music Education, received an M.A. in clarinet from Connecticut College and pursued postgraduate study in woodwinds at Eastman.

Vadala, a Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland, is director of jazz studies and saxophone professor at the university. He has held previous academic appointments at Connecticut College, Montgomery College, Hampton University, Prince George’s Community College and Mount Vernon College and was visiting professor of saxophone at the Eastman School of Music in 1995 and 2001.

Highlights of the artist’s  performing career include a long tenure with the internationally recognized Chuck Mangione Quartet, which included performances in all 50 states, Canada, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, China, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, England, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium and Switzerland. He has performing credits on five gold and two platinum albums, plus two Grammys, one Emmy, one Georgie (from the American Guild of Variety Artists) and one Golden Globe Award. In addition, he has performed and/or recorded with such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, B.B. King, Chick Corea, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Placido Domingo, Sarah Vaughn, Natalie Cole, Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Henry Mancini, Doc Severinsen, Joe Lovano and many others. In 2009, he became a regular member of the award-winning Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, and has been the first-call saxophonist with National Symphony Orchestra for many years.

DiMartino is considered one of the most sought-after trumpet performers and educators. After graduating from the Eastman School of Music with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1972, he taught at the University of Kentucky until 1993. At that time, he began a new appointment as Distinguished Artist in Residence at Centre College in Danville, Ky., and became the Matton Professor of Music there in 1996, an appointment he holds to this day. At Centre he teaches trumpet, brass and jazz ensembles, as well as jazz history. He has served as the chair of the music department and is currently coordinator of the instrumental program at the college.

Equally known as a jazz artist, DiMartino has been the lead and solo trumpet in the Lionel Hampton Band, the Chuck Mangione Band, the Clark Terry Band and the Eastman Arranger’s Holiday Orchestra.  He has also performed with some of this country’s finest college jazz ensembles. DiMartino has been a member of the artist-faculty of the highly acclaimed Skidmore Jazz Institute since its inception in 1988, working with fellow artist-teachers Milt Hinton, Todd Coolman, Ed Shaughnessy, Frank Mantooth, Curtis Fuller, Dick Oatts and Pat LaBarbera.

The International Trumpet Guild has featured DiMartino as an artist-clinician in major solo programs at their conferences, including ones at Louisiana State University, the University of Gothenburg-Sweden, the University of Colorado, the University of New Mexico, and University of Denver, as well as in London. He has served twice as the guild’s president and vice president, and was a member of its board of directors for two terms. He has been soloist with many symphony orchestras, including those of Cincinnati, Buffalo, Santa Fe, North Carolina, Orlando, Baton Rouge and Rochester, N.Y.

Tickets for the Marshall jazz festival may be purchased through the Joan C. Edwards Theatre box office by calling 304-696-ARTS (2787).  Admission charge is $10 for adults and $5 for students. Marshall students and faculty are admitted at no charge by presenting their university ID’s.

Following is the complete schedule of concerts:

  • 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 27, Joan C. Edwards Playhouse
    High School Honors Band (to be announced)

  • 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, Joan C. Edwards Playhouse
    Marshall Student Combos
    Chris Vadala and Vince DiMartino with Bluetrane

  • 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29, Joan C. Edwards Playhouse
    Thundering Herd All-Stars
    MU Jazz Ensemble with Chris Vadala and Vince DiMartino

For further information, contact Bingham by phone at 304-696-3147 or by e-mail at bingham@marshall.edu.