Student musicians performing at the 2017 Weekend of Jazz, which returns for another year at Beavercreek High School, Thursday through Saturday, March 1 through 3. CONTRIBUTED

Weekend of Jazz: Where music legends meet future stars

Saxophonist Dave Liebman’s career as a professional musician was solidified at 15 when he saw John Coltrane perform. The Pennsylvania-based artist and teacher hopes to inspire a new generation of teens during Weekend of Jazz at Beavercreek High School, Thursday through Saturday, March 1 through 3.

“I had polio as a kid,” Liebman said. “I was always around hospitals and doctors, so I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. Then I saw Coltrane and it looked interesting and unbelievably fun. This was art and music that was beyond the pale. It was so visceral. It was an awakening.”

Liebman, who performs regularly in the United States and Europe, has appeared on more than 500 recordings. His latest release is “Masters in Bordeaux” with French pianist Martial Solal.

“Jazz is a very deep music,” Liebman said. “It’s very American, at least at its roots, and it’s very African-American in its personnel. It’s music of complete honesty and of democracy versus individuality at the same time.”


Weekend of Jazz features a series of public performances. Beavercreek Band Night is Thursday, followed by the Victor Wooten Band on Friday and the Dave Liebman Big Band on Saturday. Liebman and Wooten will also be working directly with students.

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“I’ve been doing this for 50 years so I’m a relic, but I have some things to share with students,” he said. “I’m still running the organization I founded, the International Association of Schools of Jazz. We’re doing a lot of outreach and trying to get young people interested in the music.”

Musicians from more than 20 high school jazz bands will attend the 18th annual event, including Beavercreek senior Gabriel Brausch on trumpet. “I like Weekend of Jazz because it’s a place where professionals meet the students and students get to see how the thing they like doing can relate to a career,” he said.

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Beavercreek senior Shelby Rice, who plays trombone, agreed. “Weekend of Jazz truly is a unique learning experience for students. We get to interact with — and learn from — world-class musicians we wouldn’t have access to otherwise. We get insights into the industry and the lives of professional musicians, and get lessons in performance and musicianship from people who’ve made this their life’s work.”


The motto of Weekend of Jazz is, “Where the future of jazz meets the legends of jazz.” According to Tim Sakulich, the director of the Weekend of Jazz, he and the other parent volunteers take that very seriously.

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“Our mission is to get the students even more excited about music being a part of their lives,” Sakulich said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to experience jazz at this level. It’s a fun time and very educational so it really does engage them. Whether the students pursue jazz as a professional career or not, we want them to be excited about music.”

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