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A Night at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest

By Anthony Herman

Before the evening concert began Friday night at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest, the atmosphere was filled with excitement. From every corner of the waiting area there was energetic chatter and laughing from the festival goers, from small children all the way to festival goers who have seen more than their fair share of jazz. 

I too joined in on the excitement and quickly chose a decent seat in the bleachers, where I would be able to see and hear everything. Not too soon after taking my seat, I noticed a small collection of podiums to the side of the main seating area and went to take a look. Appropriately, the festival had set up some of the Lionel Hampton’s belongings, as well as items from other famous jazz musicians like Al Grey and Ray Brown.

The show began with a striking compilation of quotes by and about Lionel Hampton concerning the spirit of jazz in Idaho, and how it thrives wholeheartedly at the University of Idaho. One of the lines from University of Idaho President Scott Green stood out: “(It’s) What the University of Idaho is all about”. This close bond between jazz itself and the University truly demonstrates how powerful jazz culture is on the Palouse, and why it’s the perfect place for the festival.  

Soon after President Green’s speech the music begins. The University of Idaho Jazz Choir delivered the first performance of the night, as they rushed the stage and aisles, forming neat lines and groups singing a variety of songs. They kicked off their set with a compilation of popular tunes, including mixes of Drops of Jupiter by Train, Space Oddity by David Bowie, the well-known lullaby Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, and The Final Countdown by Europe. Though a wide selection, especially for a jazz choir, the combination of voices along with the on-stage musicians resulted in some beautiful harmonies. 

By the end, a massive group had formed on stage, each student contributing to a powerful wave of music and voices that started the evening festival with a bang. 

After the choir performance, the audience was introduced to Pat and Amy Shook, a pair of very talented musicians, who also happen to be married!  One song, which the Shooks wrote themselves to honor the Apollo missions was haunting in its performance. Sharp notes from Pat’s saxophone and reverberating tones from Amy’s bass resounded throughout the hall, forming an eerily realistic feeling of what it might feel like to be in space. On top of it all, the choir’s repeated chanting of “From the Earth to the moon,” and a countdown from ten to one combined for a unique, dramatic piece.  

The set continued, as Mr. and Mrs. Shook took turns leading the other musicians and choir from song to song, including Lemon TwistThree in One, Chapel of Love, and Bitter Sweet

After a brief intermission, we were treated to performances from the top two placers in the high school vocal competition. The first performer, Angelina Lowe, sang A Sunday Kind Of Love by Etta James, and she did so beautifully. With only a few instruments beside her, it amplified the intensity of her gentle, yet powerful voice.  

Performing after her was Dominic Nye from Edmonds, Washington. With incredible control of his voice, he sang Joy Spring by Clifford Brown and Max Roach with ease. Even as he did so, the quick lyrics did not sound rushed or degraded, rather, they were soothing. Dominic ended up winning the top scholarship, but both artists were celebrated for their incredible talent. 

Then, it was time for the well-known quartet Vertical Voices to take the stage. With sound reminiscent of acapella, they used their voices to simulate most of the music during their performance, while the actual instruments took more of a background role. 

The Vertical Voices performed several songs in their set, such as New Day, First Train Home, Magnolia, Here Comes the Sun, and Sky Blue. Friday night came to a close with their performance of Time-Line

All in all, the first evening of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival was a fun time for jazz fans and Moscow community members. Celebrating Lionel Hampton and the jazz genre as a whole, the festival in Moscow continues to serve as a place for jazz fans to come together and experience a weekend of music. 

Introducing our new KJEM staff!

At the end of the school year, all of us at KJEM 89.9 FM bid farewell to our graduating staff members, Andrew Swanson and Katherine Barner.

Andrew Swanson began working at KJEM in Spring 2018 in our Operations and Production department. He hosted his own show, titled The Hip Joint, featuring a mix of fusion and other modern jazz. Andrew was instrumental in producing KJEM Live, our live show last November that celebrated our 5th anniversary. His favorite part of his KJEM experience was sitting down to interview Snarky Puppy band leader Michael League. Now that he’s graduated from WSU, he hopes to find a job in audio and video production.

Katherine Barner has been KJEM’s Marketing Manager since the spring of 2018. If you’ve seen a KJEM social media post in the last year, it was written by Katherine! She also found opportunities for KJEM to interview high-profile artists like Snarky Puppy and Banda Magda. Katherine took on a huge role in planning and executing KJEM’s Jazz Night last April, a community event that featured local artists. Katherine hopes to work in Public Relations now that she’s finished her degree at Washington State.

I’d like to personally thank Andrew and Katherine for all they’ve done for KJEM. It was a pleasure working with both of them, and I’m proud of how much the team accomplished during their time at the station!

Today, we’re also proud to introduce two new KJEM staff members for the 2019-2020 school year.

Riley Hoover will take over as the new Operations and Production Manager. Riley is a music major at WSU, and he brings a great passion for jazz that is perfect for KJEM.

Valerie Rice is our new Assistant Program Manager. Valerie has been around the Pullman area for most of her life, and now she’ll get to help bring great jazz to the community she knows so well. We’re excited to have both of them on board at KJEM!

We have another great year ahead at KJEM. I’m excited to see what new projects and ideas the new team comes up with!

Logan Plant, KJEM Program Manager

Jazz Night 2019!

KJEM poster
Come Join us!

Join KJEM 89.9FM in Pullman at the Gladish Auditorium, April 11th, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.

Jazz Night spotlights local to the Palouse groups Jazz Wires and Fatt Jazz.

No ticket or RSVP required! Simply show up, kick back, and relax with this free community concert.

In the meantime, enjoy some KJEM Jazz online right here.

Excited to tell us you’re going to be there? Send a Tweet, a Facebook post, or an email to [email protected]!

A Look Back At The 50th Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival

Photo Credit: The University of Idaho Photo Services
Preston Snyder

The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival is held at the University of Idaho and is a festival inviting student musicians and school jazz bands from around the Pacific Northwest to compete for awards, participate in workshops and clinics put on by professional jazz musicians and experience concerts featuring famous musicians and bands. Started in 1967, this year marked the 50th anniversary of the festival. The University of Idaho made a promotional video commemorating the 50th anniversary:

The Saturday night concert started with the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival Big Band, loud and proud, led by Vern Sielert. Featuring a variety of guests, including Jason Marsalis on Vibraphone, Claudio Roditi on trumpet, and Julia Keefe singing, the band played a variety of songs including a song called 50 and Counting written by Vern and closed with a loud and proud arrangement of Lionel Hampton’s Flying Home featuring Jason Marsalis, in the style of Hampton, and a dancing trumpet section.

The set then transitioned to the best student soloists from the day and each group played their best songs from their set. Then they all came together for a final group performance and one lucky soloist, Max Zhang from Semiahmoo Secondary School in Surrey, British Columbia, was named Outstanding Instrumental Soloist for bass and received a University of Idaho scholarship from Avista Utilities.

After a brief intermission, the stage was reset and, in an outfit far more colorful than the other two performances before her, Esperanza Spaulding took to the stage, had a casual conversation with the audience as she tuned her bass, and then began to play and sing. She was joined by Justin Tyson on drums and Matthew Stevens on guitar. She played a variety of different styles and genres from an Argentinian standard to a mash-up of Humpty Dumpty by Chick Corea and All The Kings Horses by Aretha Franklin because “Those songs just sound like they should go together.” Then Justin left the stage leaving Esperanza and Matthew to play a slow, free version of Have I Stayed Too Long At The Fair. Justin came back and the trio played a loud and engaging Endangered Species. Finally, after asking for some participation, Esperanza Spaulding led a rousing finale of Nina Simone’s Forbidden Fruit. The trio took their bows, the lights came up and as the they walked backstage that was the conclusion of the 50th Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.

For more information about The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival and The University of Idaho visit:

http://www.uidaho.edu/class/jazzfest