Middle and high school students from around the state channeled their inner Coltrane at NMU’s 18th Annual Jazz Festival.

Performances consisted of big band and combo set ups that played in 20 minute blocks from 8 a.m. all the way up to 4 p.m. The festival was a great opportunity for students to see other bands perform and also to receive feedback about their own performances.

“It’s fun to play in a jazz band, certainly, but I mean if you’re in high school you may not get a lot of other opportunities to hear other high school jazz bands so this is a great opportunity to come and I mean you could literally come to the festival the day your band gets to play and hopefully have a good experience with that, but then also you may get to hear as many as 12, 15 other bands in the process,” NMU Associate Professor of Music Mark Flaherty said.  “That’s kind of a neat thing: you get to hear different repertoire, you get hear what they’re doing and hear the clinics as well and what the clinicians have to say to the groups so it’s hopefully a really good learning experience and hopefully it gets them excited about jazz.”

Many of the festival’s clinicians are NMU faculty, but there was one from Hope College and a few local musicians as well. Schools from downstate and even from Wisconsin also came to the festival.

“It’s really neat that so many schools are able to come to it and continue supporting it, and the community really comes out to support the jazz festival and coming today it’s neat to see so many people; local folks walking around and checking things out and also with the concert tonight,” Flaherty said.

This year’s guest artist was vibraphonist Stefon Harris, who performed at 4 p.m. Friday and will perform with the NMU jazz band and jazz combo Friday at 7:30 p.m.