Gene Harris Jazz Festival kicks off with Wednesday concert

John Daversa is the headlining instrumentalist at the Gene Harris Jazz Festival April 4-6 in Boise.
John Daversa is the headlining instrumentalist at the Gene Harris Jazz Festival April 4-6 in Boise.

BFM Jazz recording artist John Daversa and his band and vocalist Rosana Eckert are the headline artists at the 21st Gene Harris Jazz Festival in Boise.

Daversa, a trumpeter, composer, producer, bandleader and educator, is a Grammy nominee and 13-time Global Music Gold Medal Award winner.

Daversa writes sophisticated music with catchy melodies that share the “off-beat, slightly wacky humor ...,” jazz writer Jerome Wilson wrote in All About Jazz, an online jazz magazine. The music “is full of energy and personality. It’s got a sense of humor and enough elements of blues and soul to make it really relatable.”

Daversa, who teaches at Frost School of Music at University of Miami, received three Grammy nominations for his 2016 album “Kaleidoscope Eyes: Music Of The Beatles,” including Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.

Reflecting on the nominations and finding a balance between pop and jazz when making music, Daversa told AXS.com, “It is tricky. We all have our individuated conditioning, preferences and realities. So, my intention is always to serve the music with as much creativity, imagination, wit, raw emotion and reverence as my being can muster. If I can make that happen within my own reality, I’m satisfied. That’s all I can control anyway. And I know, from a spiritual perspective, even that isn’t real...”

Jazz vocalist Rosana Eckert is a dynamic and versatile musician, recognized internationally as a live and studio vocalist, published songwriter and arranger, and master teacher of jazz and voice. She has performed with such jazz greats as Jon Faddis and multiple Grammy winner Bobby McFerrin, and with the Grammy Award-winning vocal quartet New York Voices, a group that performed at the festival in 2005. Rosana has recorded four solo CDs of her original songs and jazz arrangements, and she performs regularly throughout the United States and abroad.

Her newest CD Small Hotel, was “highly recommended” by the LA Jazz Scene. The project also features a duet with acclaimed bassist Christian McBride, which Jazz Times Magazine called “a stunning conversation.” Her debut CD, “At the End of the Day,” was praised as a “superior debut” by Cadence Magazine and was a finalist for Best New Jazz Album in the 2006 Independent Music Awards.

A respected improviser, Rosana is a featured artist on the vocal improvisation app Scatability by Michele Weir. She also works regularly as a studio vocalist, producer and voice-over actor.

The festival this year is April 4-6 at Boise State University and Downtown. Other guest artists include the Le Beouf Brothers and the Jared Hall Quintet.

Trumpeter and composer Hall hails from Washington State and has studied at Whitworth University, the Indiana University Jacobs School Of Music and the University Of Miami’s Frost School Of Music. Hall is the winner of the 2013 National Trumpet Competition – Jazz Division, and has performed and recorded with numerous artists.

Since moving to the Seattle area, he has performed with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and other ensembles in the Pacific Northwest. He also is a clinician, guest artist and adjudicator in the region.

The Le Boeuf Brothers are a modern jazz group based in New York City led by identical twin brothers pianist Pascal Le Boeuf and saxophonist Remy Le Boeuf. Their music attains “an impressive level of sophistication,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Accolades include Independent Music Awards for Best Jazz Album and Best Eclectic Album in 2015.

Among the events over the three days are the kickoff concert Wednesday at BSU, featuring guest vocalists and BSU students musicians; Club Night concerts Thursday at various locations Downtown; and the Headline Concert Friday at BSU, featuring the John Daversa Small Ensemble and the Gene Harris Super Band.

The schedule

Tickets for events that are not free are available at ticketmaster.com, at geneharris.boisestate.edu or through Facebook. Some tickets might be available at the door.

Wednesday, April 4

5 p.m. — Guest Lecture: “The Life of Gene Harris,” professor Gianni Bianchini, Berklee College of Music, Ecuador, BSU Special Events Center, Kickoff Concert ticket required for entry.

7:30 p.m. — Kickoff Concert, featuring Rosana Eckert and other vocal guest artists, the BSU Vocal Jazz Ensemble, the BSU Jazz Orchestra. BSU Special Events Center, $7

Thursday, April 5

8 a.m.-4 p.m. — performances/clinics by student vocal and instrumental groups and guest artists, BSU Jordan Ballroom, free.

4 p.m. — Jazz Clinic with Jared Hall, BSU Special Events Center, free.

4:45 p.m. — Outstanding Ensembles Showcase Concert, BSU Special Events Center, free.

6-11 p.m. — Club Night concerts, featuring Rosana Eckert with Essential Jazz, the Le Boeuf Brothers, Jared Hall Quintet, Chuck Smith/Sandon Mayhew Latin Project, a jam session led by BSU students, and the Gene Harris All Stars Big Band, at the Owyhee Ballroom, JUMP and Simplot Performing Arts Academy, $12 gets you a wristband and into all venues.

Friday, April 6

8 a.m.-4 p.m. — performances/clinics by student jazz groups and combos and guest artists, BSU Jordan Ballroom, free.

4 p.m. — open dress rehearsal for the Super Band, annotated by John Daversa, BSU Special Events Center, free.

6:30 p.m. — Outstanding Ensembles Showcase Concert, Morrison Center, Headline Concert ticket required for entry.

7:30 p.m. — Headline Concert, featuring the John Daversa Small Ensemble, and the Gene Harris Super Band led by John Daversa and members of his Large Ensemble, Morrison Center, $15.