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CWU Musicians Shine at 2015 Jazz in the Valley

With a powerhouse like CWU’s department of music in your backyard, you’re bound to see more than a few Wildcats at Jazz in the Valley, Ellensburg’s signature summer festival. This year is especially rich in homegrown talent, with a great mix of old and new groups lighting up the stage.

First there is the ten-year reunion of the CWU 2005 Jazz Band, which made an international splash with performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands. These players have returned to Ellensburg to explore musical directions they have developed in the past decade.

“When we were playing in Switzerland, one of the musicians said we should get together in 10 years,” recounted Chris Bruya, director of jazz studies. “So, this year, I called up my former student and said ‘Let’s do it!’”

According to Bruya, all but five of the original band members will make the festival—“Four couldn’t make their schedules work, and one member has passed away.”

Since all of the band members have continued to pursue musical careers, either in performance or education, Bruya expects that the band will be even better this time around. The players have had the music for several weeks, and the group will get together for a full rehearsal on Friday. On Saturday, the CWU 2005—European Reunion Jazz Band will get the show going at 10:30 a.m., on the Main Stage, Rotary Pavilion.

On the other end of the spectrum are up-and-coming student musicians in Hot Minute, a jazz quintet formed in fall 2013 through the jazz combo program at Central. The group plays a variety of styles from traditional to modern jazz, to funk, and everything in between. Recently, Hot Minute has played venues such as Boxley’s, a jazz club in North Bend, the Cantando Band Festival in Whistler, as well as other clubs in the greater Seattle area. Hot Minute will play from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on July 25 at Fitterer’s Furniture.

Pulling out all stops at the festival’s finale is CWU’s 2015 Jazz Band One, also led by Bruya. The group tore apart the competition at the Next Generation Jazz Festival, and won the opportunity of appearing at the Monterey Jazz Festival in September. Chosen as one of six finalists in the College Big Band Division, they were clear winners in their category over schools such as University of Nevada, Las Vegas; the University of North Florida, and the University of South California.

Jazz Band One will be the closing act of the 2015 JIV at 2:30 p.m. on July 26, on the Rotary Pavilion Main Stage.

Jazz in the Valley is a three-day celebration of music and the arts in historic downtown Ellensburg that occurs on the last weekend in July. This year the festival runs from July 24-25. For more information, go to jazzinfo@jazzinthevalley.com.

CWU’s Department of Music is one of the largest and best university music departments in the Northwest. It is housed in the McIntyre Music Building, which offers concert-grade rehearsal and performance facilities. The music faculty are actively involved in their profession and are recognized as the region’s top music educators and conductors. The department offers a variety of degrees in music, including performance, music education, and composition. The department also has an acclaimed graduate program. For more information, go to www.cwu.edu/music/. 

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518, valeriec@cwu.edu

2015 Poster Art by Cheryl Waale

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