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Jazz Festival to offer 7 hours of free live music for 7th year

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Jazz musicians per form in 2015 on the on Park Central  East outdoor stage in Springfield.

Jazz musicians per form in 2015 on the on Park Central East outdoor stage in Springfield.

A great season of live music resumes this weekend downtown with the 7th Annual Jazz Festival, coming up Saturday, Sept. 24, at Park Central Square.

The festival includes seven hours of free live music at the Bear State Outdoor Stage on Park Central East, beginning at noon. The lineup promises a variety of grooves from the Missouri State University Jazz Ensembles, the Richard Bruton Quintet, the Arthur Duncan Trio, Kyth Trantham Trio with Kristi Merideth, John Strickler Trio, Hamm/Aho Quartet with Christin Bohrisch and the Missouri Jazz Orchestra (MOJO).

The excitement continues inside the historic Gillioz Theatre at 7:30 p.m., as the Gillioz Center for Arts & Entertainment proudly presents “An Evening with Pat Metheny with Antonio Sanchez, Linda Oh and Gwilym Simcock.”

Tickets are $34 – $47.50 and all tickets are reserved seating. Call 417-863-9491 with any questions, or visit gillioztheatre.com.

“We are thrilled to have a musical legend like a Pat Metheny come to Springfield as part of our Jazz Festival,” said City Manager Greg Burris. “In just seven short years, the Springfield Jazz Festival turned into a destination event that we expect to grow in popularity as much as the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival.”

Burris said he’s grateful for partners, such as the Gillioz Center for Arts & Entertainment, Bear State Bank, Springfield Regional Arts Council, the Downtown Springfield Community Improvement District and Missouri State University for continuing to introduce the Springfield community to a variety of jazz artists every year.

“It’s more than just about the music, Burris explains. “It’s about celebrating the work of great artists, but it’s also about celebrating cultural diversity.”

The Springfield Jazz Festival was an idea springing from the FieldGuide 2030, the community’s strategic plan. The vision for the Global Perspectives & Diversity Chapter is for the Springfield region to become a welcoming community that celebrates our differences by valuing a commitment to service and economic prosperity; through innovation and creativity; with knowledge and leadership; and that improves quality of life for all.

Jazz is a musical art form with African and Western European colonial roots, which dates back to the 19th century. Long before the Civil Rights Act, long before Brown vs. The Board of Education, and long before President Truman’s integration of the armed forces, black and white jazz musicians were breaking social taboos in order to share and learn from each other. Experts, in fact, say the creation of jazz was due to a melting pot of sorts: the combination of European musical tradition and African musical tradition.

The Springfield Jazz Festival is a wonderful opportunity for Springfield Public Schools students to be exposed to a variety of professional jazz musicians, said Gwen Marshall, equity and access specialist with the district. This year, select jazz musicians – one from each of the five Springfield public high schools – will be recognized at the festival for their involvement in jazz studies.

“Jazz music moves you, it lifts you, it soothes you, it twirls you around, its rhythm keeps you alive,” Marshall said.

Festival Partners• Bear State Bank
• The Network
• Springfield Regional Arts Council
• It’s All Downtown.com
• Springfield Public Schools
• Downtown Springfield Association
• Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts
• Missouri State Jazz Studies
• Missouri State Office of Multicultural Programs
• City of Springfield
• Minorities in Business
• Missouri Arts Council.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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