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Free jazz festival will be night of music, improvisation

For those looking for a night of live music and improvisation, look no further than Cameron University's Jazz Festival.

The free concert will feature music from the Cameron University Jazz Ensemble as well as the Lawton Community Jazz Band.

In addition, famed jazz trombonist, composer and arranger John Fedchock will be joining both bands on stage.

Fedchock is a two-time Grammy Award nominee for Best Instrumental Arrangement.

"I am super excited for it," said J.D. Little, director of jazz studies at Cameron. 

Little, who also conducts both bands, said Fedchock will be conducting an improvisation clinic for the students in the Cameron band on Thursday, the day before the concert. 

"He's a fabulous educator. I've seen him work with college students, though I know he can work with students at all levels," Little said.

"We've been working on a lot of music for him...he is also a well known composer and arranger. We bought eight of his pieces that we've been rehearsing."

During the concert, Fedchock will improvise over the top of each band while the bands play his orginal compositions on stage with him.

"The only thing we will be playing that isn't from him are our two opening numbers; those are more or less standard big band tunes," Little said.

The Cameron ensemble will open its portion of the concert with Count Basie's "Hay Burner." The Lawton Community Jazz Band will also open with Basie's "Splanky."

"I'm a big Count Basie fan. Any time I can sprinkle his tunes anywhere, I like to do that," Little said.

The highlight of the concert will be the eight pieces by Fedchock: "Midnight Passage," "Easy Goin'," "A Drop in the Bucket," "Opus One," "The Great Escape," "Big Bruiser," "Brazilian Fantasy" and "Breakthrough." 

"They are various difficulty levels. Some are more upbeat; some are a little slower," Little said. "It's kind of a varied repertoire throughout the evening."

"He writes in a really dense, textured kind of way so that there is a lot of stuff going on at the same time. So that it is really challenging. It's been good for the students and for the community members."

Little himself plays in both bands on top of his duties as conductor, a dual role that can sometimes be a challenge.

The Lawton Constitution

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