Highland Jazz Festival

Last weekend I did a Doubling Clinic with Mike Crotty at the Highland Jazz Festival. This particular festival is in its third year and is one of my favorite festivals. Run by two of my friends, the Highland High School Band directors, Kevin Bennett and Lewis Nelson, it is one of the few festivals where you get a complete experience. Middle school and high school bands of various sizes, instrumentation, and configurations (all are welcome!) perform for a rating and comments from out of state clinicians with the option to compete. Concert Jazz Band from Arizona State University performs with the adjudicators and guest artists in the evening concerts. Local professional musicians and educators provide clinics for the students and the band directors. Guest Artists have included Joe Lovano, John Fedchock, Jeff Coffin, Bobby Shew, and Wycliffe Gordon. These are seriously heavy players.

For me, the best part is the transition I’ve made personally. I started out as a student attending these types of Festivals (about 20 years ago… Yikes!), then being in the college band performing, then being a jazz band director and bringing my own students, then doing a clinic… It’s pretty cool to see that progression and how each step influenced me along the way to make me who I am now. I’m not done either. Next is being a adjudicator and eventually a guest artist.

Speaking of guest artists – one of the highlights of the day was getting to enjoy a clinic and performance by Joe Lovano. Lovano’s clinic was like beatnik poetry. I loved it! (not sure how those high school kids felt, though.) Having only ever heard Lovano on his records, I simply fell in love with his playing live. Especially his ballads. Man, that guy is one of the best ballad players I have heard – he played a tune based off Body and Soul changes and I melted. So beautiful!


Mike and I had a great great time doing the clinic. It’s fun to talk about something that we both feel so passionately about and enjoy doing. We hope to do many more of them. I’ve included our handout at the bottom of this post for you, if you’d like. In addition, I made some new friends – great players and educators: Erik Applegate, Robert Morgan, and Matt Olson. One of the best parts about doing things like this is meeting new people from all over the country. I’m so fortunate to be a part of this community of musicians who love, teach, and perform jazz.

Doubling Clinic PDF

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