The 27th Annual Temple College Jazz Festival will take place March 23-25 at the Mary Alice Marshall Performing Arts Center (PAC) on the Temple College main campus.

The annual event has gained a reputation as one of the best jazz festivals in the southwestern United States, bringing together top professional artists, clinicians and student musicians for an entertaining and educational weekend of jazz. Festival sponsors include Baylor Scott & White Health and the Central Texas Jazz Society.

photo of Pete Christlieb

Pete Christlieb

Headliners for this year’s festival are saxophonist Pete Christlieb and pianist Kenny Werner. Christlieb established himself as a first-call live and studio player in Los Angeles, and is well known for performing with the Woody Herman and Louis Bellson bands, and as a regular member of the Tonight Show band under the direction of Doc Severinsen. The most notable of his recorded solos were on Steely Dan’s pop tunes “Deacon Blues” and “FM,” and on Natalie Cole’s remake of “Unforgettable.” Werner has been a world-class pianist and composer for more than 40 years, has published a landmark book titled Effortless Mastery, Liberating the Master Musician Within, and was awarded the 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship for his seminal composition “No Beginning No End,” a musical journey exploring tragedy and loss, death and transition, and the path from one lifetime to the next.

Christlieb will perform with the Temple College Jazz Ensemble and Temple College Faculty Jazz on Friday, March 24, and Werner will perform with the Temple Jazz Orchestra on Saturday, March 25. Both concerts will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for students, and may be purchased at the door or in advance at the Division of Fine Arts office at Temple College.

The Friday evening concert will begin with Christlieb supported by Temple College Faculty Jazz, a sextet consisting of all Temple College jazz instructors. The music in this portion will be pieces Christlieb plays regularly with his wife and trombonist Linda Small in their group, the Tall and Small Quintet. The Temple College Jazz Ensemble will join Christlieb on the second half, which will feature pieces by Tom Kubis and Sammy Nestico (writer for the Count Basie Orchestra), as well as a composition by Bob Florence titled “Soundsketch,” a tenor saxophone feature originally recorded by Christlieb.

photo of Kenny Werner

Kenny Werner

On Saturday evening, Kenny Werner and the Temple Jazz Orchestra will perform a combination of favorites from the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra catalogue that Werner had performed with the famous big band in years past, such as “Don’t Git Sassy,” “Three and One,” and Bob Brookmeyer’s beautiful ballad “First Love Song.” The TJO also will present a few of Werner’s challenging and original compositions that he performs regularly around the world.

“In each instance, the audience will be astounded by the brilliance of Werner’s piano playing,” said Festival Director Dr. Benjamin Irom.

The festival will also feature performances by nearly 50 school groups throughout the day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. These concerts are all free and open to the public.

For more information on the festival, visit www.templejc.edu/jazzfestival or call the Temple College Fine Arts Office at (254) 298-8555.