Guest Artists, Competitions, Clinics.


Donny McCaslin with The Collective

Thursday, April 23, 2015
7:30 p.m.
Nightingale Concert Hall

Acclaimed saxophonist and Grammy nominee Donny McCaslin grew up in Santa Cruz, Calif., inspired by his father, a pianist and vibraphonist. The youngster started playing tenor saxophone at 12 and quickly progressed, touring Europe and participating in the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival’s California All-Star band while in high school. After attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston, he joined Berklee professor Gary Burton’s quintet, with whom he toured for four years. McCaslin moved to New York in 1991, working with bassist Eddie Gomez and then joining the group Steps Ahead.

But he really began to turn heads with his solo work in larger ensembles – first Ken Schaphorst’s big band, and subsequently the acclaimed Maria Schneider Orchestra, where his performance on the album Concert In The Garden received a Grammy nomination for “Best Jazz Instrumental Solo” in 2004. So much for McCaslin’s “traditional” credentials, which provide the anchor for his much-admired work in more adventurous realms. Chief among these is the piano-less quartet Lan Xang (which evolved from an experimental partnership with fellow New York saxist David Binney) and the quintet led by the widely lionized trumpeter Dave Douglas, who added McCaslin to his band in 2005. Reviewing the Douglas Quintet in Jazz Times, Josef Woodard wrote of McCaslin: “He’s a versatile player who moves easily between inside and outside musical zones . . . . There’s a fluidity and grace to his playing even when he’s pushing at envelopes.”

Thanks to the high profile of the Dave Douglas Quintet, McCaslin achieved wider praise for the incisive twists and purposeful turns of his emotionally charged solos. But those qualities – along with his sometimes startling virtuosity, and his distinctive voice as a composer – had actually been on display for much of the previous decade, during which McCaslin proved himself a valued sideman on recordings by Danilo Perez, Luciana Souza, and performances with Tom Harrell, Brian Blade, John Pattitucci, The Mingus Band, and Pat Metheny. In 2006, McCaslin received a Doris Duke grant for new jazz composition from Chamber Music America; In Pursuit comprises the results of that work.

McCaslin appears with the University of Nevada, Reno’s acclaimed faculty jazz ensemble, The Collective.

One of the most creative and distinctive jazz ensembles in the northwestern United States, the University’s own faculty ensemble, The Collective features pianist Adam Benjamin, bassist Hans Halt, drummer Andrew Heglund and saxophonist Peter Epstein. In addition to maintaining a busy performing schedule, the group's members are dedicated instructors, and form the core of the Jazz Studies area at the University of Nevada, Reno. Each of the group's musicians is eager to share his knowledge of improvisation, composition, history and other aspects of the jazz craft.

For more about Donny McCaslin, visit

The Donny McCaslin with The Collective concert is included in the Jazz Fan, Full Festival and Thursday passes. Visit our Purchase page for options in buying individual concert tickets and for more information.

Photo of SFJAZZ

SFJAZZ Collective
Vertical Voices

UNR Jazz Lab Big Band

Friday, April 24, 2015
7:30 p.m.
Lawlor Events Center

Vertical VoicesAfter releasing their album “Vertical Voices: The Music of Maria Schneider” in 2010, Julia Dollison and Kerry Marsh joined forces with Jennifer Barnes and Greg Jasperse to form a vocal quartet that focused primarily on performing Schneider's music live. Soon, the group expanded their repertoire and focus to include their own original compositions as well as arrangements by Pat Metheny, The Yellowjackets, Imogen Heap and other contemporary jazz and pop influences. Now, Vertical Voices performs in a variety of styles, all with a fresh and innovative approach, venturing into new artistic territory within the vocal jazz genre, using wordless vocals, new compositions, improvisation and more.

The SFJAZZ Collective is an all-star award-winning jazz ensemble comprising eight of the finest performers/composers at work in jazz today. The SFJAZZ Collective was launched in 2004 by SFJAZZ, the nonprofit San Francisco Jazz Organization, which is the West Coast's largest jazz presenter and a recognized international leader in jazz creation and education. The Collective has become one of the most exciting and acclaimed groups on the jazz scene, and the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco is the Collective’s home base.

The SFJAZZ Collective is celebrating its 10th Anniversary with a 2014 tour and an appearance at the 60th Anniversary Newport Jazz Festival in August 2014 by highlighting their greatest arrangements and original compositions. This "best of" performance includes material from many of the Collective's past and present members along with the tribute composers including Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Stevie Wonder and Chick Corea.

In addition to its outstanding line-up, the SFJAZZ Collective has been praised for its innovative approach to repertoire. Eachyear, the ensemble performs a new list of compositions by a modern jazz master and new pieces by the Collective members (commissioned by SFJAZZ). Through this pioneering approach, simultaneously honoring jazz's recent history while championing the music's up-to-the-minute directions, the Collective embodies SFJAZZ's commitment to jazz as a living, ever-relevant art form.

The Collective recently released the 2-CD set, The Music of Chick Corea & Original Compositions, recorded in March 2013 at the brand new SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco. The Collective’s first and only studio album, Wonder: The Songs of Stevie Wonder, won Outstanding Jazz Album at the 45th Annual NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, Calif., in February 2014.

For more about Vertical Voices, visit

For more about SFJAZZ Collective, visit

The SFJAZZ Collective/Vertical Voices concert is included in the Jazz Fan, Full Festival and Thursday passes. Visit our Purchase page for options in buying individual concert tickets and for more information.

Festival Showcase and Awards Ceremony

Saturday, April 25, 2015
6:30 p.m.
Lawlor Events Center

The Festival Showcase will feature a performance by the winners of the RJF All-Star Performers competition, and encore performances from some of the highest-rated groups and soloists in the festival.

During the showcase performances, awards will be given in recognition of individuals and groups who place in the top five of each category (top eight for middle school bands).

The Festival Showcase and Awards Ceremony concert is included in the Jazz Fan, Full Festival and Saturday Passes. Visit our Purchase page for options in buying individual concert tickets and for more information.


(Festival, Friday or Saturday Passes required.) The Reno Jazz Festival has expanded its commitment to providing educational opportunities during the festival. Clinics will cover topics including instrumental and vocal performance, jazz arranging and improvisation.