The Joy Of Jazz

The Joy Of Jazz

Festival seeks to connect community, musicians



When Chris Teal moved to Northwest Arkansas from New York a few years ago, he brought with him a passion for jazz, his teaching experience and his nonprofit, The Institute for Creative Music. After letting the dust settle following the move, Teal was eager to get to know “the greats” among established community performers, and put his education and engagement skills to work. The result is the inaugural Fayetteville Jazz Festival, taking place April 12 and 13 in a collaboration among the University of Arkansas Community Music School (where Teal teaches), the Institute for Creative Music and the Fayetteville Public Library.

“It’s sort of like the jazz ‘hang,’ which is something that doesn’t happen quite as much anymore these days, especially between different generations,” Teal says of the intimate festival. The goal was to offer an event where the education and performance sides of jazz could overlap, while uniting listeners and players, curious newcomers and veterans of the genre.

The festival begins April 12 with a quartet performance featuring artist-in-residence saxophonist Doug Stone. The group is rounded out with local heavy hitters of the jazz scene Jake Hertzog on guitar, Garrett Jones on bass and Teal himself on drums. The morning of April 13, school and youth ensembles will have the chance to participate in clinics with Stone where they will get feedback and have the added benefit of hearing their peers’ performances and evaluations.

“There are great jazz musicians in every city I have ever lived in or visited. It is quite common for guests from other regions to be brought in as clinicians at festivals. Outside clinicians can bring fresh ears to the music … similar to the role of a record producer,” Stone says of the significance of young musicians getting to interact with industry professionals during the festival.

“Networking is also a huge part of a career in music. As I travel around the country adjudicating high school jazz band festivals and teaching at camps, I meet other clinicians, directors and students, with whom I develop relationships and keep in touch. Although there are thousands and thousands of jazz musicians around the world, the community sometimes feels very small as connections are made. It is a joy to know and work with musicians all over the world.”

Following the clinics on April 13, community events at the library include a lecture presentation on “The Music of Ella Fitzgerald,” a “Listening to Jazz” workshop and another quartet performance by Stone, with local icon Claudia Burson stepping in on piano.

“I think sometimes the boundaries that a lot of people would think of with jazz, or [anything that] might be thought of as ‘art music,’ is that you have to have extensive experience with it, and there’s like this inside club,” Teal muses. “But we really wanted to cut that down and say, ‘No, this is something that is really fundamentally about listening and communication.’ So the IfCM has been really integral in developing that type of philosophy.”

“I never feel like I am trying to intentionally educate anyone,” Stone adds. “I just like to share information that has helped me grow as a musician, listener and person. I usually learn more than those who I am assigned to ‘teach!’”



Fayetteville Jazz Festival

WHEN & WHERE — 8 p.m. April 12 at Guisinger Music House, 1 E. Mountain St.; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. April 13 at Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall on the UA campus and at the Fayetteville Public Library

COST — Events at Guisinger Music House and the Fayetteville Public Library are free


FYI — The IfCM offers yearly jazz workshops and summer camps for youth and adult musicians of varying abilities. Visit to learn more.

Categories: Music