If you love jazz or if you want to learn more about it, Las Cruces is the place to be this week. On Thursday, Nov. 10 and Friday, Nov. 11, the NMSU Music Department presents the 54th annual “Jazz Jumpstart,” with concerts, masterclasses, improvisation workshops, clinics, a jam session — and that’s not even a complete list. The festival features two guest artists flying in from the East coast and the UK as well as numerous local jazz musicians and teachers.
On Thursday, the featured artist is London-based pianist, cellist and composer Randy Bushman. He’s “a new musician on the jazz scene, but his music has a wide appeal, especially to younger audiences,” NMSU trumpet and jazz professor Jacob Dalager told Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin in this interview about the festival. Bushman will perform the first half of the concert with a group of local jazz musicians, and in the second half, the NMSU Jazz Ensemble will premiere five of his works arranged by Dalager for the festival. On Friday, renowned trumpeter Terell Stafford will be the featured performer– “one of the greatest trumpet players alive, in my opinion,” Dalager said. “There’s fireworks coming out of his trumpet when you hear him play, it’s fantastic.”
In addition to the NMSU Jazz Ensemble, other local musicians who will perform include Josh Carter, Brian Wright, Christian Chesanek, Pancho Romero, the Border Jazz Orchestra, and the NMSU Jazz Lab Band. An open jam session takes place on Thursday night at 9:00 pm at Mom’s Coffee, 1001 E. University, in Las Cruces.
“What brings people back to [jazz] over and over again is the excitement of improvisation – that’s one of the core features of jazz,” Dalager said. “Spontaneous music-making [is] a thrill to listen to and a thrill to do because you never know what’s going to happen, it will be different every time.”
Listen to the whole interview to hear about other offerings of the festival, including Paris Hot Club music, Afrobeat improvisation, and the all-star Border Jazz Orchestra. More information at https://jazz.nmsu.edu/.