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Jazz it up: BSU to host 39th annual Bemidji JazzFest

Michael Brothers will be taking part in this weekend's JazzFest at BSU. (Submitted Photo)

BEMIDJI—Jazz students and fans will get a little taste of the South this weekend as the 39th annual Bemidji JazzFest kicks off Friday, featuring two New Orleans-based performers.

About a dozen high school and college jazz bands will descend on BSU for the festival, which will take place both Friday and Saturday. They will be joined by two prominent names in the industry, including percussionist Michael Brothers and trombonist Mark Mullins, both of New Orleans.

"Both of them have worked with some of the greatest commercial and jazz artists in the world," said Scott Guidry, BSU assistant professor and director of bands. "They're both very well seasoned performers and musicians."

During the clinics for the various school groups, the bands will have an hour on stage. The guest musicians then will work with the students, critiquing their performances.

In addition to all the individual performances and clinics, there will be two evening concerts. The BSU Faculty Combo Concert featuring Brothers and Mullins will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2. The BSU "Blue Ice" Jazz Band Concert featuring Brothers and Mullins will be held 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3.

"I'm always excited about the opportunity to work with young players, and I like the mix that this festival has—that it's not only high school groups but some college groups as well," Brothers said. "You get to work with a couple different levels. I'm always intrigued with what's taking place in jazz education in other parts of the country."

Brothers is a "lecturer of percussion and coordinator of jazz and percussion studies at Southeastern Louisiana University," according to a press release. Outside of the university, he also has performed for some of the largest names and acts in the industry.

In addition to his numerous other projects, Brothers took part in more than 6,000 performances of the Music Box Co.'s "tour of the Brodway musical 'The Phantom of the Opera.'"

Mullins also has worked with some industry-leading groups. He co-founded the band Bonerama, which Rolling Stone magazine dubbed "the ultimate in brass balls..." the release said. His skills also have taken him to several national stages, including the "The Late Show," "The Tonight Show" and the Grammy awards.

The Jazz Festival will give Guidry, Mullins and Brothers an opportunity to perform together for the first time in several decades after they attended college together in Louisiana.

Although Mullins and Brothers will work with the students on specific areas, Mullins said they also are there to share their personal experiences as professional musicians.

"It's an incredible thing to be able to play music for a living," Mullins said. "I'm going to share some of that personal stuff and talk a little bit about what I do and what we all do as musicians."

If You Go:

What: Bemidji JazzFest

Where: BSU's Bangsberg Hall

When: 7:30 p.m. evening concerts on Friday, Feb. 2 and Saturday, Feb. 3. Events also scheduled during the day Friday-Saturday.

Cost: Daytime events are free. Admission for the evening concerts is $10 for adults, $5 for students and free for BSU and NTC students