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U.S. Army jazz band to perform during annual February 18 jazz festival

ISSUED: 8 February 2023

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The Shepherd University School of Music will present the United States Army Blues Jazz Ensemble as part of the annual Shepherd Jazz Festival on Saturday, February 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Frank Arts Center Theater. The concert is free and open to the public.

The U.S. Army Blues, part of the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” is the premier jazz ensemble of the U.S. Army. After informal beginnings in 1970, this 18-piece ensemble became an official element of the Army Band in 1972. The Army Blues strive to fulfill their mission through public concerts, educational outreach, and preserving the tradition of America’s unique art form—jazz.

The Shepherd University Jazz Festival will take place throughout the day and will feature performances by middle and high school students from the region. Each participating band will perform in the Frank Center Theater and then attend a clinic with one of the Festival’s clinicians. Times for the free concerts are:

This year’s Jazz Festival clinicians are Shepherd adjunct faculty Kevin Pace and Kelton Norris, and guest artist Xavier Perez.

As a saxophonist in bands such as Maynard Ferguson’s Big Bop Nouveau, the United Nations Orchestra, and the Jon Faddis Orchestra, Perez has played in notable venues such as New York’s Blue Note Jazz Club, Washington, D.C.’s Blues Alley, and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Perez joined The United States Military Academy Band’s Jazz Knights in 2009 and in 2013 became a member of The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” as tenor saxophonist with the U.S. Army Blues.

Norris draws from his experiences as a performer in New Orleans and Chicago and  influences from other noted musicians. Titled Best Drummer by Washington City Paper in 2016—an article that noted Norris’ “sharp ears and joyful rhythmic precision,” he has appeared on stages at well-noted venues such as Chicago’s Jazz Showcase and Andy’s Jazz Club, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Indianapolis’ Jazz Kitchen, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Bohemian Caverns, Blues Alley, and many other venues throughout the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and Midwest.

A winner of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award, bassist Pace is gaining the attention of the straight-ahead jazz scene. As well as being an active jazz musician, Pace has become one of Maryland and central North Carolina’s most reliable freelancing bassists performing in the orchestra of the Long Leaf Opera Company in Durham, North Carolina, and in pit orchestras for musicals such as “Urinetown,” “A Chorus Line,” “The Music Man,” “Company,” and over 30 others throughout the East Coast.

For more information about upcoming events, visit the School of Music Calendar of Concerts and Events.

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