Eastern’s 62nd Annual Jazz Festival hosted postponed concert Saturday


Rob Le Cates

Bob Sheppard, an American saxophonist, solos at the 62nd Annual Jazz Festival in the Dvorak Concert Hall in The Doudna Fine Arts Center on Saturday. Sheppard played alongside EIU students and faculty during the performance.

Ryan Meyer, Multimedia Reporter

Saxophonist Bob Sheppard traveled through delayed flights and a postponement to perform at the 62nd Annual Jazz Festival on Saturday.  

Sheppard performed sets at the 1 p.m. concert in the Dvorak Concert Hall with both the EIU Jazz Ensemble and the Faculty Jazz Trio, composed of Paul Johnston on piano, Andrey Gonçalves on bass and Jamie Ryan on the drums. 

The Jazz Ensemble kicked off the concert with “This I Dig of You,” a Hank Mobley piece that saw solos from saxophonists August Frisbee and Kyle Huddleston. 

The ensemble also performed The Beatles’ standard “Eleanor Rigby” with Sheppard, rearranged for a jazz group. 

Sheppard selected the songs that were to be played with the faculty trio, and he said that he picked based on which pieces would allow him and his fellow performers to be the most creative. 

“Tunes that everyone could sort of relax and play music and not have to have their eyes glued to the music, stuff that we could just sort of create,” Sheppard said.  

According to Sheppard, the songs weren’t selected in terms of difficulty. 

“I don’t look at it in terms of hard or easy,” Sheppard said. “I look at it in terms of creating, that everyone can join in and not be intimidated. So, we could just play something and make jazz, the spirit of jazz, come alive.” 

Sheppard has collaborated with a multitude of renowned musicians, ranging from the likes of Joni Mitchell to Stevie Wonder.  

“Playing with the best of the best is huge; it makes me play better,” Sheppard is quoted as saying in the event program. “I was able to get those calls mostly due to my improvisational and interpretive abilities, and of course my sound.” 

The festival also included clinics at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. for the high school and middle school students in attendance.  

Six judges from around Illinois would observe 16 performances over the course of Saturday. 

John Grygiel IV, a high school student from Mahomet, Ill. who was attending the festival with his school band, had the chance to meet Sheppard after the performances.  

“I’m not a saxophonist; I’m a drummer, but I think his clinic was really inspiring, and I thought he was a good player,” Grygiel siad. “So, I’m happy to meet him and talk to him and get an autograph.”

“He didn’t just talk about saxophone specifically, which is why I liked the clinic so much,” Grygiel said. “He kind of opened it up to jazz in general, and how you can listen and improvise just by listening and I thought that was really cool.” 

Justin Wheeler, a senior music education major, was able to perform alongside Sheppard as a member of the Jazz Ensemble. 

“Being on the trombone side, I don’t actually know a lot about Bob, but from what I’ve heard he’s (an) amazing improv guy, just all around really good jazz technician,” Wheeler said. 


Rob Le Cates contributed to this article.


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