In the popular consciousness, jazz has been a declining art form for decades, but for two days, jazz filled the campus of Fullerton College. The school’s Jazz Festival, held Friday and Saturday, brought together students, teachers, and fans from over 70 schools for competition and performance.
For Fullerton College, the event has been an annual tradition for the past 42 years. It aims to promote both vocal and instrumental jazz music. In addition to the performances, the festival featured workshops for jazz students, and vendors selling instruments for anyone who wanted to start learning.
It was an opportunity to put a spotlight on the Fullerton College music program.
“The Fullerton College music department is abnormal,” said John Tebay, music instructor and co-chair of the festival. “It is not your typical community college music department. It is the largest in the state. The level of musical training that goes on here is higher than most of the universities in the state.”
Over 2,000 people were on campus as the competitions spread through the buildings surrounding the Quad. High schools from all over Southern California (and the Tucson Jazz Institute from Arizona) came out for the festival, which has grown into one of the largest of its kind.
“Directors, students and our guests adjudicators; all the people that participated in the festival feel like it was a valuable experience for them, educationally and musically,” Tebay said.
In front of the 1300 Building, there was an outdoor stage for bands to showcase their talents, including FC’s Jazz Lab Band (one of six FC jazz ensembles that performed). People crowded around to hear the bands play and shop from the vendors who were selling food, instruments, music books and gifts for music fans.
“It’s great to see all the different generations enjoying this music,” said Annette Kelly from Kelly’s Enterprise, a vendor at the festival.
Planning for the Jazz Festival began in November 2013 by Bruce Babad, Joe Jewell, Jamie Shaw, and Tebay. Aiding them were many volunteers from the music department at FC.
As for the future of the jazz festival, the department hopes to keep clearing the bar that they have set so far.
“I want to keep our priorities on good music education,” Tebay said. “We have a lot of clinics that are attended by hundreds of kids. We want to keep the clinics as valuable as they have been in the past. To continue to look for new ways to encourage music education.”