For most of the 700 musicians from three states, the 3rd Annual Kansas City Jazz Summit provided them with their first look at Kansas City Kansas Community College.
“It had a real impact on those who had never been here,” said Jim Mair, director of jazz music at KCKCC and founder and organizer of the three-day Jazz Summit that attracted 35 middle school, high school and college bands from three states.
A veteran of countless jazz festivals, workshops and clinics, Mair said the summit exceeded even his high expectations.
“We had killer sound from Ian Corbett, killer lighting from Charlie Leader and the kids noticed it. The sound was the best I’ve ever heard at a college jazz festival. Dr. Corbett and his students in audio engineering ran sound and recorded every band and literally handed each director a CD of their performance and critique within minutes of their performances," he said.
The lighting was provided by Charles Leader, professor of theater, and helped give the Performing Arts Center the look of a New York City loft complete with wall banners and posters.
“Having judged festivals around the continent, our stage was dressed and lighted to the nines,” Mair said. “If it sounds like I’m gushing, I am. The sound and lighting was the best I’ve seen or heard and literally knocked the socks off the participating bands.”
Mair said the use of KCKCC’s TV station Channel 17 also opened some eyes.
“Not only was the use of the TV station as a warm-up room critical to making things run smoothly, students were surprised the college has a TV station and thought it was real cool,” he said.
The summit was highlighted by the Kansas City Jazz Heritage “Basically Basie” competition won for the third straight year by Blue Valley Northwest High School. The championship was decided by members of the audience who were able to text their votes.
Mair said the 35 bands which competed came from as far away as Springfield and St. Louis in Missouri, Iowa and western Kansas and represented a 15 percent increase in participants. Participating bands included four college bands, Johnson County Community College, Penn Valley, Southwestern Iowa and Washburn University along with KCKCC.
KCKCC jazz ensembles performed seven times during the summit.
“The band played lunch concerts so the students were able to hear our students playing at a higher level,” Mair said. “Our students come from all over and each was introduced so the audience got an idea of the diversity of the band. Also, I received a lot of great feedback on how well it was run, the good communications and how everything was on time.”
Two adjunct members of the KCKCC faculty, Steve Molloy on brass and Brett Jackson on woodwinds, adjudicated the summit.
“They really made a huge impact, positive and powerful,” Mair said. Prizes for outstanding soloists were donated by John Burright, director of the KCKCC Bookstore.
Other support was provided by Cherilee Walker, dean of humanities and fine arts; John Stafford II, director of choral music; Bill Yeazel, director of the Performing Arts Center; Barbara Clark-Evans, director of the Intercultural Center; Jeff Sixta, Dan Ward and their Buildings and Grounds staff; Linda Burgess, Latisha Wheeler, Stacie Beebe and Mary Mair.