Celebrated Jazz Pianist Michael Wolff Headlines UARK Jazz Festival April 13-15

The Department of Music is excited to announce the 2023 Inaugural UARK Jazz Festival headlined by acclaimed pianist Michael Wolff. This year marks a rebranding of the Department’s previous festival initiatives in prior years and a new name - The UARK Jazz Festival. The UARK Jazz Festival also launches as a part of the newly created Arkansas Center for Black Music. This year’s festival celebrates three days of music at three different locations and includes a wide range of student and professional ensembles.

Jazz pianist Michael Wolff began his career with Cal Tjader in the mid 70’s and went on to perform and record with Airto and Flora Purim, Cannonball Adderly, Sonny Rollins, The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, and Nancy Wilson among many others. For five years Wolff was the band leader and musical director for the Arsenio Hall television show. His prolific recordings span jazz, fusion, and contemporary styles and he has performed with and conducted over 25 symphony orchestras worldwide.

“We are so honored to welcome Michael Wolff to our campus, and so thrilled to have such a master share music with our students and our community” said jazz area coordinator Jake Hertzog. As part of the festival, Wolff will perform with the University of Arkansas jazz faculty, the University of Arkansas Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Rick Salonen, and the newly created University of Arkansas Festival Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Susumu Watanabe. Wolff will also present a jazz workshop and present an interview lecture on his autobiography, On That Note.

In addition to performances by Michael Wolff, the UARK Jazz Festival will feature each University of Arkansas jazz area ensemble and jazz ensembles from 11 local and regional schools. Planning committee member and University of Arkansas Jazz Orchestra director Rick Salonen declares, "This year's festival shows that jazz music is 'alive and well' in the educational programs throughout the State of Arkansas. We have ensembles participating from junior high schools, public high schools, private high schools, community college and university programs”. Additionally, “Like previous versions of the festival” Rick added, “the UARK Jazz Festival is proud to be collaborating with the Northwest Arkansas Jazz Society. NAJS has been a long-time promotor of jazz music and jazz education in the NWA region for decades!”

The 2023 UARK Jazz Festival will take place at the University of Arkansas Black Box Theater, the Faulkner Center for the Performing Arts, and the Thaden School Auditorium in Bentonville. This year’s jazz festival planning committee is Jake Hertzog, Rick Salonen, and Susumu Watanabe. The jazz area is also pleased to announce the 2024 jazz festival planning committee: Lauren Clare, Rick Salonen, and Fernando Valencia.

The full UARK Jazz Festival schedule is available on the Department of Music website. All Events are free and open to the public.

UARK Jazz Festival 2023

Thursday, April 13
Lewis E. Epley Band Building, room 123

  • 9:30-10:45 a.m.: Jazz Clinic with Michael Wolff

U of A Black Box Theatre

  • 4-5 p.m.: "On That Note" A Life in Jazz: Michael Wolff Lecture and Interview
  • 5-6 p.m. Voices Ensemble
  • 7:30 p.m.: Latin American Ensemble
  • 9:30 p.m.: UARK Jam Session open to the public

Friday, April 14
Faulker Center for the Performing Arts

  • 3:30-4 p.m.: U of A World Music Ensemble
  • 4:15-4:45 p.m.: U of A Int. Jazz Combo
  • 5-5:30 p.m.: Farmington HS
  • 5:45-6:15 p.m.: Bentonville HS
  • 6:30-7 p.m.: Prairie Grove HS
  • 7:30 p.m.: U of A Jazz faculty and UARK Festival Jazz Orchestra featuring Michael Wolff

Saturday, April 15
Thaden School Auditorium, Bentonville

House Band: Claudia Burson Trio

  • Time — School — Director
  • 10-10:30 a.m. — Arkansas Arts Academy — Patrick Sallings
  • 10:45-11:15 a.m. — Gravette HS — Aaron Ray
  • 11:30 a.m.-noon — Washington Junior High — Jared Jones
  • 12:15-12:45 p.m. — Bentonville West HS — Katelyn Barry
  • 1-1:30 p.m. — NWACC — Paul Price
  • 1:45-2:15 p.m. —       
  • 2:30-3 p.m. — Fayetteville HS — Jason Marshall           
  • 3:15-4:45 p.m. — U of A Advanced Jazz Combo— Rick Salonen  
  • 5-5:30 p.m. — Don Tyson School of Innovation — Zach Brown   
  • 5:45-6:15 p.m. — Rogers HS— Rob Kain        
  • 7:30 p.m. — U of A Jazz Orchestra featuring Michael Wolff

Jake Hertzog, jazz area coordinator
Department of Music
479-575-4701, jhertzog@uark.edu


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