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Jazz Night: small town, BIG sax!

Donny McCaslin headlines Jazz Night on April 9.
Donny McCaslin headlines Jazz Night on April 9.

With fewer than 13,000 residents, Medfield may be considered a small New England town, but when it comes to jazz, the sax is king here.

On April 9, for Medfield’s annual Jazz Night, one especially big Grammy-nominated tenor will take the stage:  Donny McCaslin from New York City.  McCaslin will perform with the Medfield High School Jazz Band, which earned a slot once again in the Essentially Ellington competition with Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center, May 8 to 10. Medfield is one of only 15 jazz bands from across North America to have been named a 2014 Ellington finalist. This will be Medfield’s fourth trip to Lincoln Center since 2005. 

“The saxophone is considered to be one of the most iconic instruments in jazz music, and with such great sax talent right here in Medfield, McCaslin was a natural choice as a guest artist,” said Medfield Music Director Doug Olsen.

Medfield is home to highly regarded tenor saxophonist and composer Jerry Bergonzi, who performs regularly in the Boston area and worldwide, is author of the Inside Improvisation Series, teaches at New England Conservatory, and squeezes in helping local students when he’s around.

Bergonzi has taught and mentored a new generation of saxophonists in his hometown, including Medfield High School junior Anton Derevyanko, who was first tenor in the Massachusetts All-State Jazz Band last year which performed at the 2013 Newport Folk Festival, and 8th grader Ryan MacLean, who earned a second chair spot in the prestigious New England Conservatory Youth Jazz Orchestra in 2012 and is the first Medfield middle school music student invited to play up with the award-winning high school jazz band. 

The Medfield community, and its music students and educators are excited about the town’s reputation as a jazz leader, and especially about McCaslin’s appearance at Jazz Night. 

Said sax player Ryan Dexter, director of the Blake Middle School Jazz Band where Medfield music students get their first taste of jazz, “Donny McCaslin is one of the top jazz saxophonists performing today.  He not only has a reputation as a great musician, but also as an outstanding teacher of jazz music.”

Also performing at Jazz Night: Medfield High School Jazz Choir and Jazz Lab Band, and the Middle School Jazz Band. Over the years, these ensembles have also earned awards at various festivals. 

Jazz Night, presented by Needham Bank, is open to the public; doors open at 6:45 p.m.; and tickets are $10 for adults; $5 for seniors, students and children. Regular tickets only can be purchased online via www.medfieldmusicassociation.com, but all tickets can be purchased at Park Street Books or Needham Bank, or at the door on April 9. 

Jazz Night ticket sales benefit the entire Medfield Music Program; additional fundraising in the lobby at Jazz Night as part of the “Dollars for Duke” campaign will help support the Medfield High School Jazz Band trip to the Essentially Ellington competition.

Jazz Night sponsors include Roche Bros., Clay Family Dealerships, and Zullo Gallery Center for the Arts. Jazz Night is also supported by a grant from the Medfield Cultural Council, a local entity of the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

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