It will be all about jazz Saturday, April 29, as the Eastern Kentucky University’s Department of Music hosts the 2006 Jazz Fest.

The event, which will be from noon until 5 p.m. in the Ravine on EKU’s campus, will feature a main performance by the EKU Jazz Ensemble, along with vocalist Stephen Futrell, director of choral activities and music department chair at Elon University in North Carolina.

If rain occurs, the festival will be moved to Gifford Theatre in the Campbell Building.

“We wanted to keep it kind of light, more like a festival atmosphere,” said Jonathan Martin, conductor of the EKU Jazz Ensemble. “There’s going to be food, drinks, music all afternoon and hopefully good weather. It’s an event where kids and families can come just to enjoy the day.”

“One of the reasons we do this is to give my students some experience that is real-world oriented,” he said. “They get to perform some high-quality music in front of a big crowd.”

Special guest Futrell has performed as a jazz vocalist on national and international levels, Martin said.

“Stephen Futrell is a great jazz singer and an outstanding classical singer,” he said. “His background is very varied and diverse. He sang with Bobby McFerrin when he was younger after winning a jazz competition. I think people are really going to enjoy listening to him.”

The Jazz Fest also will feature performances by the EKU Jazz Combo at noon, the MASH Jazz Band from Meadville Area High School in Pennsylvania at 1.15 p.m., and the Lexington Jazz Arts Foundation Youth Ensemble at 2:30 p.m.

The EKU Jazz Ensemble and Futrell will perform at 3:45 p.m. for the event’s finale.

Admission is free and open to the public, however, reserved seating will be available for $3 the day of the festival.

“People can look forward to the kind of music that makes you want to tap your feet and get up and dance a little bit,” Martin said. “There’s music from the era of Count Basie to the modern Motown. We’re going to have a wide variety. It’s going to be fun for people who know nothing about jazz and fun for those who know everything about jazz.”

Bryan Marshall can be reached at or 624-6691.

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