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Jazz Festival at U. of I. pays tribute to trumpet great Maynard Ferguson


Melissa Mitchell, U. of I. News Bureau arts writer
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The spirit of jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson will live on during much of this year’s Summer Jazz Festival hosted by the University of Illinois School of Music June 4-6 in the Colwell Playhouse at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Concerts begin at 7:30 each night.

The festival, which features performances by U. of I. faculty members, kicks off with an evening of jazz concertos with full symphony orchestra.

Opening-night featured performers will be vocalist Lisanne Lyons; Jim Pugh, trombone; and Chip McNeill, saxophone.

Ferguson’s music moves center stage on June 5 in a program titled “The Music of ‘Big Bop Nouveau,’ ” a reference to a band formed in the late 1980s by the legendary trumpeter. Selections will include “Birdland,” “Caravan” and “A Night in Tunisia.”

The closing-night theme will be “The Birdland Dream Band and Beyond.” The title refers to a 14-piece big band formed by Morris Levy in 1956 to play at his Birdland jazz club in New York City. Ferguson led the short-lived band, which recorded two albums. However, the outfit formed the core of Ferguson’s performing band for the next nine years and included a rotating cast of players that included Slide Hampton, Don Ellis, Peter Erskine and many others.

More information about the performances and ticket information is available on the Krannert Center Web site,