Charles McPherson, whose saxophone skills were featured in Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning movie Bird, will be among the musicians scheduled to perform at the UCF-Orlando Jazz Festival on March 23-24 in the Nicholson School of Communication Auditorium.

Also on tap for this fifth annual festival will be Hammond B-3 soul jazz organist Mike LeDonne from New York, UCF’s own The Jazz Professors, university jazz bands, the UCF All Star High School Jazztet and music clinics.

McPherson, who performed last month at the Lincoln Center in New York, will head up the Friday, March 23, show and will be backed up by The Jazz Professors. The saxophonist, who came to prominence in the 1960s when he started performing with bassist Charles Mingus, also toured with Billy Eckstine, Lionel Hampton, Nat Adderly and others.

The Jazz Professors are: Jeff Rupert, director of jazz studies at the university, on tenor sax; Per Danielsson on piano; Marty Morrell on drums; Richard Drexler on bass; Bobby Koeble on guitar, and Michael Wilkinson on trombone. The group has made two CDs for Flying Horse Records, including a live recording at the 2010 jazz festival, both of which cracked the music charts.

Opening up the Friday night show will be the Jazztet of select high school musicians from around Florida, who will be coached by the UCF jazz faculty. The focus of the Jazztet is improvisation within a small-group setting.

On Saturday, March 24, organist LeDonne will perform with UCF Jazz Ensemble I, and The Jazz Professors will return for their own set.

LeDonne will play songs from his latest CD as well as music by Jimmy McGriff, Michael Jackson, The O’Jays and Sonny Stitt.

Sue Ryerson, president of the Central Florida Jazz Society, said she is looking forward to the 2012 lineup.

“It sounds like this year it is bigger and better than ever. I’m very impressed,” she said, adding that the high school Jazztet is a good way to acquaint students with the UCF music program.

Rupert agreed that each year’s event has exceeded the previous festival.

“We strive to bring in high level artistic groups that might not normally be in the Central Florida area,” he said. “We also bring in a diverse group of artists ranging in style of jazz and age.”

Tickets for each evening’s 8 p.m. concert are $20, or UCF students can be admitted free with a student ID.

Free music clinics will be held during the day on March 24. “There’s no need for people to bring instruments, but bring questions and your ears,” Rupert said.

For more information about the festival and workshop schedules, go to

This year’s title sponsor is Don Reid Ford in Maitland; other sponsors are Flying Horse Records, AAA, Café Murano, Yamaha, and Bruce Whistler.