‘Blacktet’ group to perform at Doudna

Ryan Meyer, Staff Reporter

Internationally renowned musician Marquis Hill is bringing his group, the Blacktet, to the Doudna Fine Arts Center this weekend to perform with the EIU Jazz Ensemble and to offer guidance to aspiring jazz musicians. 

“(The Blacktet’s) music is an interesting fusion of jazz, hip-hop and some modern styles. It’s one of the more cutting-edge groups in jazz, and we’re excited to have them here as our guest artists,” said Paul Johnston, professor of Jazz Studies. 

The 61st Annual EIU Jazz Festival begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday with a concert by Hill and the EIU Jazz Ensemble. All day Saturday, middle and high school musicians and groups from across the state will be performing and receiving clinics from a variety of jazz professionals and educators. 

“It is a way for groups to come together, perform in front of one another, but also perform in front of professionals and jazz educators. That way, the groups can participate in little workshops, whether it’s percussion, whether it’s horns, or bass, or guitar. It’s just a full, intense day of jazz education for young musicians,” said Dan Crews, director of programming at Doudna. 

Eastern’s music majors also act as judges for the competition, and they get to demonstrate what they have learned during the continuation of their musical studies. 

“Eastern students play a big role because what they do is they serve as judges and clinicians. They kind of help guide the students and share the knowledge that they’ve gained. They get to perform in front of the younger students. It’s an inspiring opportunity for students who continued their jazz studies,” Crews said. 

The festival still holds interest for those not familiar with jazz, though. 

 “I think anyone would benefit from hearing the great music from our guest artist and also our band; some people might not realize that our own jazz ensemble is as strong as it is,” said Sam Fagaly, director of Jazz Studies at Eastern.

Johnston said the art being showcased this weekend promises to be interesting, and those in attendance are likely to be enlightened by the professionals’ dedication to their craft.

“I think any time you have an opportunity to see a production or hear music that is done on an incredibly high level, it is just inspiring, so I hope that folks will come just to be inspired by a high level of artistry,” Johnston said.

Tickets cost $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors, $10 for students and can be purchased online at www.eiu.edu/doudna or at the Doudna Fine Arts Center Box Office. 

Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].