Alcorn Jazz Festival brings smooth tunes to city

Published 11:59 pm Saturday, April 12, 2014

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After listening to the smooth tunes at Alcorn State’s 34th annual Jazz Festival on Saturday, Moss Point native Cylvia Williams was marking her calendar for future festivals.

“From now on, I know that I will never miss this event,” said Williams. “It feels so good to see all of the outstanding talent here. These kids have been excellent.”

Williams was one of many jazz enthusiasts who came to the Vicksburg Convention Center to hear some of the state’s best high school and college jazz bands play classic numbers from artists such as Franks Sinatra and Count Basie.

Festival director Eddie Buggs was impressed with the leadership and skill of the band directors.

“The jazz groups have been great. You can really see all of the band directors’ expertise. Jazz music is meant to be felt by everyone. When these students show the ability to make the audience feel the music, that means that they have a good director who knows their craft really well,” said Buggs.

Otis P. Carter, director of Moss Point High School’s jazz ensemble, was excited about the chance to show his band off to the crowd.

“I try to bring my students here every year because I thing this is the best experience that they could get. It’s a great opportunity to expose them to bigger crowds,” said Carter.

Cedrick Evans, from Cleveland, Miss. appreciated the educational aspect while enjoying the music.

“This is an enlightening experience. This is good for the young people because it’s teaching them that there is more to music than pop, rap and the other stuff that’s being played on the radio,” said Evans.

Evens believe that jazz should be pushed more in school music classes.

“Schools should have more involvement in this music. Maybe that will plant a seed in the students’ minds and from there, they would pursue the genre.”

Karlo Williams and Tashandra Bailey, both Jackson State University freshmen and members of the JSU vocal jazz ensemble, saw the festival as a chance to gain experience and recruit younger students for their band.

“It’s always fun to perform with a group of your peers. It’s even better when you get your experience by performing in front of an audience. You can practice as much as you want to, but until you’ve actually gone on stage to perform with a band, you don’t really get the full experience,” said Williams.

“I think this event will influence younger kids to experiment with jazz music and help them to really get in to it,” said Bailey.