For the first time ever, Eastern New Mexico University is hosting the All-State Jazz event this weekend.
Organizer Michael Ellzey, an ENMU assistant professor of trumpet, said 54 high school students who had been chosen by audition, plus accompanying band directors, would arrive Friday. The students are to rehearse Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday morning, before performing a public concert Sunday afternoon.
Clovis High School students Bryan Wygant and Jacob Caffrey are among those participating. Ellzey wasn’t aware of other participants from the area in All-State Jazz this year.
The New Mexico Jazz Educators Association is co-sponsoring the 27th annual event with ENMU.
In past years, All-State Jazz events took place in Las Cruces or Albuquerque, according to a news release from ENMU.
Ellzey said ENMU couldn’t host All-State Jazz before because it had only two large venues, the band room and Buchanan Hall, for the three jazz ensembles to practice. However, the remodel of the Music Building added a large refurbished choir room.
Along with the renovated Music Building, New Mexico Jazz Educators Association President Pancho Romero said, the organization likes to rotate All-State Jazz to universities around the state, and it was about time ENMU hosted the event.
Ellzey said the Music Department was excited to host All-State Jazz.
“I think our biggest thing was the honor of having it here,” he said.
Ellzey also said the event would provide good exposure and recruiting opportunities for ENMU.
The finale concert features all three bands, which are divided by skill level, playing back to back.
“The pieces are selected by the guest conductors to reflect the finer points of jazz and showcase the talents of the students,” according to the news release.
Ellzey said each ensemble would perform for 20-25 minutes.
“It should be a good afternoon of music,” he said.
Romero said the importance of the weekend was the element of jazz.
“Jazz is one of America’s original art forms,” he said, adding that its preservation is important to everyone, and high school is good place to start.
All-State Jazz is a rare opportunity to play with other students, Romero said. He said it brings together the best jazz students in the state to work under clinicians from outside the area and be exposed to new ideas and music.