Annual Jazz Festival Returns Next Week at West Chester University

jazz musician
Image via West Chester University.
Dave Liebman.
WCU logo

For the first time since 2019, the Wells School of Music at West Chester University will bring world-class entertainment and live jazz to the surrounding community during the annual Jazz Festival from March 23-26.

Most performances are free and take place in the Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre, located in the Swope Music Building and Performing Arts Center at 817 South High Street. This year, the festival will extend into the borough with a performance at the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center.

Full listings and details for all programming can be found here.

The Jazz Festival is the first from the university since 2019 due to the pause in some productions because of COVID-19.

In celebration of WCU’s 150th anniversary, this year’s three-day festival is a tribute to the past, present, and future of the Wells School of Music with performances that feature faculty, alumni, and current students, as well as performances by jazz legends.

“During this, the 150th-year celebration of West Chester University, we wanted to celebrate our accomplished alumni, faculty, and students by featuring their work at the festival,” said Director of Jazz Studies Jonathan Ragonese. “Our own faculty jazz group, as well as our beloved student jazz ensemble, the Criterions, are among the many points of pride for the Wells School of Music. As well, alumni of West Chester University’s Wells School of Music perform all over the continent and on world-class stages. We want local audiences to take advantage of these mostly free offerings and to hear and enjoy some of the finest jazz artists that are associated with West Chester University.”

Events include:

Wednesday, March 23 at 12 PM
Larry Marshall Trio
Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre

Larry Marshall is an alumnus of WCU who started playing drums at the age of five. His recording and touring career have taken him around the world to perform with some of the world’s greatest jazz artists. He’ll play with fellow alumnus and bassist, Rob Swanson, and pianist Andy Roberts.

Wednesday, March 23 at 8 PM
WCU Faculty Jazz Group
Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre

Featuring Dan Cherry (trombone), David Cullen (guitar), Christopher Hanning (drumset), Marc Jacoby (vibraphone), Terry Klinefelter (piano), Peter Paulsen (bass), Jonathan Ragonese (Saxophone), and John Swana (Valve Trombone/EWI).

Thursday, March 24 at 8 PM
WCU Criterions Celebrate Alumni
Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre

Ragonese leads the Criterions in a celebration of alumni featuring all-alumni special guests. The evening opens with a performance by the Latin Jazz Ensemble led by Dr. Marc Jacoby.

Friday, March 25 at 1 PM
John Swana Trio
Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre

An alumnus of WCU, Swana is from Norristown and began studying the trumpet at age 11. He has performed or toured with the Mingus Big Band and the Dave Holland Big Band and has also played and recorded with well-known jazz names from around the world. He plays with Philadelphia jazz guitarist Steve Giordano and trumpeter Dave Meashey.

Friday, March 25 at 7:30 PM
David Liebman with the Dalí String Quartet and featuring WCU’s Criterions Jazz Ensemble
(Ticketed Event)
Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center

Liebman is considered a renaissance man in contemporary music with a career stretching over 50 years. He has played with masters, including Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, McCoy Tyner, and others. He’ll play with WCU’s own quartet-in-residence, Dalí Quartet, in a concert that will also feature WCU’s beloved Criterions Jazz Ensemble. Purchase tickets.

Saturday, March 26 at 10 AM
High School Jazz Ensemble Showcase
(Ticketed Event)
Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre

Some of the finest jazz ensembles from high schools around the region will perform in half-hour sets. Student ensembles will receive feedback from WCU faculty. Purchase tickets.