Denton Arts & Jazz Festival to groove downtown

Denton Arts & Jazz Festival to groove downtown

Denton Arts & Jazz Festival to groove downtown
April 15
23:55 2015

Kayleigh Bywater / Staff Writer

For 35 years, the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival has explored the genres of art and music throughout history.

The festival, which runs April 24 to the 26, will features jazz musicians and art enthusiasts from all over the world.

Assistant director Kevin Lechler said the event was originally called Spring Fling, but was renamed 25 years ago to better explain what the festival was about.

“The event sprang from the idea that fine art and music should be made available to the public for free, and we still maintain that core value,” Lechler said. “Our entire operating budget is raised annually through the generous support of sponsors and members.”

Unique compared to other festivals in Denton, the Arts & Jazz Festival is free and open to the general public. Lechler said this can sometimes be the hardest part of putting the event together.

“Most people do not realize the costs involved in producing such an event, from stage rentals to cost of headliners,” Lechler said. “These costs seem to rise each year and our challenge is to find ways to meet those costs without sacrificing the overall experience of the typical attendee.”

Merchandising and e-commerce senior Cory Simmons has attended the festival since his freshman year and said he looks forward to the event each spring.

“A friend told me about the festival years ago and I have not missed a year since,” Simmons said. “I really enjoy jazz, but they have a mixture of everything at the festival, not just the typical type of jazz music.”

The festival has been growing more each year with the help of the community and volunteers, Lechler said.

With seven stages, craft booths and vendors filling up Denton Quakertown Park, Simmons said the festival will have something for everyone.

“You can spend all weekend making rounds around the festival,” Simmons said. “The musicians are constantly playing throughout the day and the vendors are always selling gorgeous artwork. You never know what is going to catch your interest.”

Performer and festival veteran Carolyn Jones will be singing on the main Jazz Stage at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 26. Before starting a career in music, Jones said she was a buyer for stores like Neiman Marcus, but left her passion of retailing to pursue a love for music.

“I have sang since I was a little girl,” Jones said. “Everyone around me is involved in music, and I wanted to get into the music business before I was too old.”

Jones said her nerves have subsided and she is ready to perform in front of the crowds come next weekend.

“Sometimes I get nervous, but since I know my material really well and will have really talented, reliable musicians playing behind me, it takes a lot of the anxieties away,” Jones said. “It is honestly thrilling.”

In addition to Jones, other bands, singers, schools and club choirs will perform original songs and covers.

One headliner, trumpet player Randy Brecker, will perform on the Jazz Stage at 9 p.m. Friday, April 24. Brecker said he has won numerous Grammy Awards for his work and musical skill.

“We were asked to perform by Ray Hair, a fan, who is also the president of the Musician’s Union,” Brecker said. “I am very proud that he asked me to perform.”

He said this festival is particularly special for him. He will be playing songs from his new CD, “Randy Brecker’s Brecker Brothers Band Reunion,” which pays homage to former members of his band.

“The list is a long list, and it includes my brother, the late and great Michael Brecker,” he said. “A portion of the show we will devote to him and the whole thing is dedicated to him.”

Simmons said having a large variety of acts is what draws a lot of people into the festival.

“Music knows no limits or boundaries,” Simmons said. “People can speak different languages or look different on the outside, but that does not matter. Music brings everyone together.”

Jones said nothing means more to her than the look on the audience’s faces while she is up on stage.

“It is this indescribable feeling when you are able to get something across to your audience and everything is clicking,” Jones said.

Jones said if people are unable to attend the festival, KNTU 88.1 broadcasts almost every part of the festival for those stuck at work or studying.

Along with the melodies, the festival also offers the opportunity for artists and crafters to show off their work as vendors. Attendees can check out a wide variety of items inside the Denton Civic Center and at the Fine Art and Crafts outdoor display.

“The rewards of the festival are many,” Lechler said. “I love the looks on the faces of children as they create their first masterpiece and I enjoy offering an opportunity for members of an elementary choir to experience their first performance. Watching members from every walk of life watching and enjoying every aspect of the event is amazing.”

For more information on the 2015 Denton Arts & Jazz Festival, visit http://www.dentonjazzfest.com.

Featured Image: Polka supergroup Brave Combo rocks the main stage at the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival. This year celebrates 35 years of the festival. File photo courtesy of Denton Arts & Jazz Fest Facebook

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