The Reno Jazz Festival showcases the future of jazz at the University of Nevada, Reno April 27-29, 2023. Over three days, more than 3,000 individuals will attend and participate in jazz performances, headliner concerts, workshops, and free and open-to-the-public jam sessions.
“This year’s landmark event is a celebration of jazz music like no other and marks our return to a completely in-person event since the start of the pandemic,” Peter Epstein, festival director and saxophone professor, said. “The 2023 festival is brimming with new content and initiatives that embody our efforts to build an equitable future of jazz.”
Activities kick-off on Thursday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. with an opening performance featuring vibraphonist virtuoso Joel Ross performing alongside the University faculty ensemble, the Manzanita Quintet, in Nightingale Concert Hall. The Manzanita Quintet, one of the most creative and distinctive jazz ensembles in the northwestern United States, features pianist Adam Benjamin, bassist Hans Halt, drummer Andrew Heglund, saxophonist Peter Epstein and trumpeter Josh Reed.
The festival is rooted in education with a commitment to further the next generation of great jazz artists. The event includes 112 performances by jazz bands, choirs and ensembles from more than 60 middle schools, high schools and colleges from throughout the western U.S. Each of these student ensembles will perform and receive coaching from esteemed professional jazz musicians and educators.
Throughout the Reno Jazz Festival, twenty leading jazz musicians and educators will lead workshops and perform during daytime concerts and a late-night jam session. A highlight event is a panel conversation with faculty and students from the Berklee College of Music’s Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice that explores gender, jazz and the new standards that are being established for a more equitable future in jazz.
This year’s festival composer is the inventive saxophonist, clarinetist and woodwind specialist, Julian Tanaka, who attendees will have the opportunity to learn from throughout the weekend. This marks the second year of a new festival tradition that involves commissioning new music from underrepresented communities in jazz. This music is available, at no charge, to all participating schools.
The festival headliner, groundbreaking and fearless trumpeter and composer, Marquis Hill performs on Friday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts alongside a heavyweight lineup that includes drummer Damion Reid, bassist Junius Paul, vibraphonist Joel Ross and pianist Jahari Stampley. Since winning the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Composition award, Hill has demonstrated full command of his art and built a reputation for synthesizing, what he describes as, the essential elements of the African American creative heritage including contemporary and classic jazz, hip-hop, R&B, house and neo-soul.
The University’s premier jazz ensemble, Jazz Lab I, and the Nevada Wind Ensemble will open for Marquis Hill with acclaimed guest composer Omar Thomas. This is the culminating performance following Thomas’ weeklong residency at the University and will feature a suite of LGBTQ+ rights music.
On Saturday, April 29 the Reno Jazz Festival concludes with a not-to-be-missed showcase featuring three of the most innovative, creative and inspiring student performances that took place during the festival. The event begins with an opening performance by a quartet from the Berklee College of Music’s Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice at 7 p.m. at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts.
Other activities include two free and open-to-the-public jam sessions. A student-only Jam Session will take place on Thursday, April 27 starting at 10 p.m. and a Pro Jam Session on Friday, April 28 at 10 p.m. which will kick-off with an all-star house band of saxophonist Caroline Davis, pianist Tal Cohen, bassist Richard Lloyd Giddens Jr. and drummer Tina Raymond. Both events take place at Laughing Planet on N. Virginia St.
Passes and tickets are available online and by phone (775-784-4278) through April 20. After that date, passes and tickets can be purchased in person at the Reno Jazz Festival Box Office located in the Church Fine Arts building lobby (Hours: Thursday, April 27 6:30 – 7:45 p.m.; Friday, April 28 7:15 a.m.– 5:15 p.m.; Saturday, April 29 7:15 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.) and the Joe Crowley Student Union (Hours: Friday, April 28 7:15 a.m.– 5:15 p.m.; Saturday, April 29 7:15 a.m.– 4:45 p.m.).