Alcorn’s 40th anniversary Jazz Festival set for first weekend in February

Alcorn State University’s 40th Anniversary Jazz Festival will include teachings and a performance from a world-renowned jazz pianist. The festival is set for Feb. 4-5.

Pianist Kenny Barron will give lessons to students during the Jazz Festival Workshop, Friday, Feb. 4, in the Department of Fine Arts Little Theater on Alcorn’s Lorman campus at 3 p.m. The Kenny Barron Trio will close out the 40th festival with a concert on Saturday, Feb. 5 at the Vicksburg Convention Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi at 8 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.

Called “One of the top jazz pianists in the world” by “The Los Angeles Times,” Barron is an NEA Jazz Master and 11-time Grammy nominee who helped define and extend the jazz tradition since his work with Dizzy Gillespie in the early 1960s. A seven-time recipient of Best Pianist by the Jazz Journalists Association, Barron leads an ironclad trio with bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa and drummer Johnathan Blake. He regularly performs as a soloist and in duet with bassist Dave Holland and violinist Regina Carter.

Barron is a faculty member of the Julliard School of Music and was awarded honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music and SUNY Empire State.

Asking Barron to participate in the festival was an easy decision for Dr. David Miller, director of the festival and professor.

“Kenny is one of the greatest jazz piano players globally and is considered one of the most influential mainstream jazz pianists since the bebop era,” said Miller. “He performed at the first festival in 1980 with the Rutgers Jazz Professors. Even though that was before my time at Alcorn, I thought it would be a full-circle moment to have him back as a guest artist at the 40th festival.”

Miller hopes that Alcornites and the community jump at the opportunity to learn from Barron during the festival’s Friday workshop.

“As Kenny’s career pans about 60 years performing with so many of the best jazz musicians, he has much to offer young aspiring musicians. Students will have the opportunity to benefit from his extensive background. It’s not often that students anywhere learn from a jazz master like Kenny in such an intimate setting. I hope that as many students, faculty, staff, and community members as possible come to take advantage of this rare opportunity.”