The Western Illinois Museum will kick off the Annual Al Sears Jazz Festival with a program on Friday, September 23 at 4:30 pm designed to enhance the festival performances. The hour-long program explores the relationship between trends in the style and performance of jazz music of the WWII era which fostered a cultural shift in how people listened and danced in a nation at war.
The program will start with a brief performance of the era’s most memorable songs by singer Vicki Mayo accompanied on the piano by Ann Collins. Both performers are well-known in the area for their interpretation of the American Standard, as well as respected music educators. They have been an integral part of building appreciation and knowledge of jazz through their recordings, performances, and support of the annual festival.
Jeff Holtz and Sterling Kernek will follow with a perspective on the significant changes that impacted the music and dance from 1939 through 1945 during the global conflict. Holtz, well-known for his radio programs on jazz music, joins Kernek, a historian who has done research on Al Sears. Their rich and diverse knowledge promises an insightful and compelling dialogue.
The Western Illinois University’s Swing Dance Club, a student organization that includes faculty, as well as area residents, will conclude the program with a demonstration of some of the popular dances of the time, including East and West Coast Swing. While “swing” is often associated with a form of jazz music, the term is also used to describe this new form of dance. At the conclusion of the program, the group welcome guests to practice a few swing techniques with the guidance of the members.
The program is the perfect start to a weekend-long opportunity to hear the world-class jazz musicians at the Al Sears Jazz Festival. Special guest will be Al Sears’ daughter, Sylvia Sears Cartwright. For a complete listing of ASJF performances held September 23 through 25, visit the festival’s web site at: http://www.searsjazzfestival.com/.
The Western Illinois Museum is located at 201 S. Lafayette Street, one block south of Macomb’s Courthouse Square. The program is free and open to the public; donations at the door are welcome. For more information about the program contact the museum at 309.837.2750 or visit the web site at http://wimuseum.org.