Jazz great Chris Vadala comes to the 26th Annual Sunbelt Jazz Festival at University of West Georgia on Friday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m.
UWG’s Department of Music and the Townsend Center for the Performing Arts host the annual show for lovers of great jazz.
On Thursday and Friday before the concert, Vadala will work with the University Jazz Ensemble and the Bowdon middle and high school jazz bands. He will perform Friday evening with the bands backing him up.
Fans of jazz legend Chuck Mangione will recognize Chris Vadala as the saxophone, clarinet, and flute player on his many award-winning recordings, including the famous “Feels So Good” and “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” albums. But fans may not realize that Vadala has played on more than 100 recordings. He’s also worked with world-class artists like Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy Gillespie, B.B. King, Placido Domingo, Chick Corea, Ella Fitzgerald, Natalie Cole, Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, Doc Severinsen and Aretha Franklin, Vadala holds down an impressive “day job” as the director of Jazz Studies and saxophone professor at the University of Maryland.
Part of Vadala’s time each year is devoted to working with young jazz ensembles in schools and colleges across the country. Vadala’s passion for working with young music students is what gave Dr. Daniel Bakos, director of the UWG Jazz Ensemble, the chance to get him to come to West Georgia to work with his student ensemble and the local school bands. Bakos knows the impact that working with someone of Vadala’s stature can have on the young musicians who participate in the Sunbelt Jazz Festival workshops and performance.
“It’s not like a class, there’s no distance between him and them,” said Bakos, who has worked with Vadala before.
“The kids have this opportunity to see him up close, interact as equals on a musician-to-musician level,” Bakos said. “And while he’s teaching them about improvisation and giving them musical advice, he’s also relating his own experiences, telling them about situations where he had to persevere and adjust to be successful as a professional musician. It’s a great learning experience for them and gives them a sense of confidence that they have worked with him and know him and learned from him. And he’s a great guy, not self-important in spite of his status. He’s easy to work with, eager to share and play beautiful music. He’s a role model and an inspiration for them.”
For tickets call 678-839-4722 or go to http://townsendcenter.org/ for tickets.