Jazz singer Vanessa Rubin to perform this weekend

Loren Dickson, Entertainment Reporter

Eastern’s music department will be hosting the 58th annual jazz festival Friday, Feb. 10 and Saturday, Feb. 11.

Friday’s opening concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will include the EIU Faculty Jazz Trio, the EIU Jazz Ensemble and guest artist Vanessa Rubin.

Vanessa Rubin is an experienced lyricist, composer, producer, arranger and educator.

She has been a part of the jazz community since the early ’80s and has been praised for her ability to flow and swing to a wide array of styles.

The program for the event states that Rubin can “range from whisper to shout in the blink of an eye; from honey-laden ballads purring like a kitten, to up-tempo swinging and scatting like a fluent saxophone.”

Paul Johnston, professor of jazz studies and jazz piano, has participated in the past twelve jazz festivals at Eastern and will be performing alongside Rubin Friday night.

“I’m really looking forward to performing with Vanessa Rubin and our faculty rhythm section,” Johnston said.

Saturday’s events kick off with the band competition at 8:25 a.m.

Middle schools and high schools from across the region will be performing and competing Saturday for a variety of awards and trophies.

“This is a great opportunity for middle school and high school students to come perform, hear other groups and learn more about jazz,” Johnston said.

Following the competition will be another performance by Vanessa Rubin and Eastern’s Jazz Ensemble.

Sam Fagaly, the conductor of the Jazz Ensemble, said this is the biggest event of the year for them.

“Although we have many other large-scale concerts, all of the visiting groups definitely makes this our biggest event,” Fagaly said.

It is a great chance for Easter students and other students to perform, compete and learn more about jazz, he said.

Along with the competition on Saturday, there will be a variety of clinics that take place. Audience members will be able to ask questions about the musician’s styles and techniques and learn how to improve their own skills.

There will be clinics by Vanessa Rubin and Paul Johnston, along with a variety of instrument clinics.

At 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Dvorak Concert Hall, the awards ceremony will take place where groups will be recognized for their participation in the 58th Jazz Festival.

General admission is $16 and student admission is $7.

Loren Dickson can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]