The 28th Annual Temple College Jazz Festival will take place March 22-24 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.

photo of Kirk Covington

Kirk Covington

Headliners for this year’s festival are drummer Kirk Covington and bassist/arranger John Clayton. Covington is one of the most versatile and dynamic drummers in the world, and has been a driving force in the success of the world-renowned jazz fusion group Tribal Tech. He also has his own trio, “CPT KIRK,” with keyboardist Scott Tibbs and bassist Rufus Philpot.

Clayton’s career highlights include arranging “The Star Spangled Banner” for Whitney Houston’s performance at Super Bowl 1990 (the recording went platinum), playing bass on Paul McCartney’s CD “Kisses On The Bottom,” arranging and playing bass with Yo-Yo Ma and Friends on “Songs of Joy and Peace,” and arranging, playing and conducting the 2009 CD “Charles Aznavour With The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.” He also has served as the musical director of several jazz festivals, including the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.

Covington will perform with the Temple College Jazz Ensemble and Temple College Faculty Jazz on Friday, March 23, and Clayton will perform with the Temple Jazz Orchestra on Saturday, March 24. 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 feature Covington playing four tunes with the Temple College Jazz Ensemble, including pieces written by Tom Kubis, former Tonight Show Orchestra writer Mike Barone, and current University of North Texas One O’clock Lab Band director Alan Baylock. The concert will conclude with Covington and the Temple College Faculty Jazz performing several tunes Covington has written. Sparky Thomasson, who plays trumpet with the Temple Jazz Orchestra, will be featured in the concert as well.

Festival Director Dr. Benjamin Irom said he has been a fan of Covington’s drumming since his earliest days playing with Tribal Tech. “It was only later that I became familiar with his talents as a pianist and vocalist,” Irom said. “He can do it all!”

photo of John Clayton

John Clayton

Saturday night’s concert will begin with two original compositions by Temple Jazz Orchestra pianists Dave Wild and Benjamin Irom. Wild’s imaginative arrangement of “Naima” pays tribute to saxophone pioneer and composer John Coltrane as well as contemporary piano player Herbie Hancock. Irom’s composition, “You’re Soaking in It,” was inspired by an old catch phrase from a popular soap commercial in the 1970s. The rest of the program will feature music written by Clayton, most of which was originally recorded by his Los Angeles-based ensemble, The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.

Irom said he is very fortunate to have finally secured Clayton to perform with the Temple Jazz Orchestra.

“John is not only one of the leading bass players on the jazz scene these days, but his compositions and arrangements are very creative,” Irom said. “They are as fun to listen to as they are to play.”

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.

Immediately following the Friday evening concert, there will be a jam session for festival participants in the lobby of the Hilton Garden Inn. Both Covington and Clayton will participate, as well as the festival judges.

For more information on the festival, visit or call the Temple College Fine Arts Office at 254-298-8555.