Jazz is all about improvisation and experimentation — and that is what the annual UCF-Orlando Jazz Festival will do when it improvises and goes all virtual Feb. 26-27.
Performances for the 14th year of the event will be streamed from Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts in Winter Park (where UCF musicians will be shown) and from Smalls Jazz Club in New York (where alumni and some guest musicians will play).
“Smalls presents the highest level of jazz, and is an internationally recognized jazz club,” says Jeff Rupert, a Pegasus Professor, director of UCF’s jazz studies, and a member of the Jazz Professors also on the festival lineup. “Numerous important clubs are closing their doors permanently as a result of COVID, and yet Smalls is working to maintain a presence.
“Since we can’t present live jazz at UCF this term, the partnership with Smalls was logical. We can present the highest level of art without flying in guests and endangering them or our students.”
Rupert said the artists also will give master classes to jazz UCF students.
Headlining the New York portions of the festival with performances each day is the Joe Farnsworth Trio, which includes Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Barron on piano.
Students, alumni and other professionals will perform during the weekend event in addition to the Jazz Professors, who will close out the festival on the final night. The band is made up of UCF faculty members: Rupert on saxophone, Per Danielson on piano, Richard Drexler on bass, Bobby Koelble on guitar, Dan Miller on Trumpet, and Marty Morell on drums.