Basie’s big band sound to Spyro Gyra fusion

Stylistic diversity on display at 14th annual Weekend of Jazz

HOW TO GO

What: The 14th annual Weekend of Jazz

Where: Beavercreek High School, 2660 Dayton-Xenia Road, Beavercreek

When: Thursday through Saturday, March 6-8

Cost: Varies

More info: 937-490-9010 or www.weekendofjazz.org

What: Beavercreek Band Night

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, March 6

Cost: Free

Who: Count Basie Orchestra

When: 8 p.m. Friday, March 7

Cost: $30 adults, $20 students and seniors. Limited tickets available at the door

What: School band showcase

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 8

Cost: Free

Who: Spyro Gyra

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, March 8

Cost: $30 adults, $20 students and seniors. Limited tickets available at the door

Local jazz fans will be able to indulge in a smorgasbord of styles, from Count Basie Orchestra’s big band sound to the fusion of Spyro Gyra, at the 14th annual Weekend of Jazz. The festival, at Beavercreek High School Thursday through Saturday, March 6 through 8, also features regional school bands tackling those styles along with be-bop, traditional jazz and other genre offshoots.

“We really shoot for a diversity of styles,” said Weekend of Jazz director Tim Sakulich. “We try not to have two acts on the same stage that are identical styles. Last year we had a leading edge fusion act in Jeff Coffin and also Ramsey Lewis, who has been a piano jazz artist for decades. It was a nice bookend to the whole event.

“This year, of course, it’s Count Basie and his style and tradition,” he continued. “Then Spyro Gyra, who really pushed the art form into new areas in the late ’70s. Again, very different styles but the whole point is to give that exposure to the kids.”

The approach worked. For the first time in the festival’s history, both headliners have sold out.

“Fortunately, we’re not sweating our ticket sales at all this year,” Sakulich said. “We’ve suspended online sales but we will have some reserve tickets available at the door for purchase.”

Weekend of Jazz isn’t only focused on professional talent, with two different spotlights on school bands. Music begins Thursday night at 7 p.m. with Beavercreek band night and continues at 8 a.m. Saturday with performances from 20 regional bands.

“It’s really unique because the kids perform and they’re observed by professional clinicians, who will evaluate and give feedback to the band in front of the audience,” Sakulich said. “They’ll get to experience the kind of instructive help a young musician would get in a group like that.”

VOLUNTEER POWER

Sakulich, a member of the Beavercreek Music Parents Association, has three children in Beavercreek schools. His son, Mike, is a senior in high school and his twin 13-year-old daughters are in middle school. This is Sakulich’s first year as director.

“My wife actually volunteered me for this and I love it,” he said. “It’s been quite exciting and pretty rewarding. We have some really capable volunteers that step up and do the things necessary to make sure we put on a topnotch program that whole weekend. It really is a team effort. You don’t pull something off like this without a lot of help.”

The event was founded in 2001 by Douglas McCullough, director of bands at Beavercreek High School.

“I have to give Doug credit for the vision behind this whole thing,” Sakulich said. “We wouldn’t have a program were it not for his commitment to this and really providing the driving force behind getting it started. And the collaboration he has with the Music Parents Association is really strong.

“It’s a mutual commitment to each other,” he added. “We’re going to make sure this thing continues to thrive and perhaps even grow in the future.”

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