The largest event of its kind in the nation, the UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival brings together internationally recognized artists, jazz lovers, award-winning clinicians, and over 250 college, high school, and middle school big bands, combos, and vocal jazz groups. Each year, over 7,500 participants enjoy the main stage concerts, after-hours sessions, daytime performances, and the many educational workshop sessions.
The Festival is a non-competitive educational and cultural facet of the UNC Jazz Studies Program that furthers the University of Northern Colorado’s mission of lifelong learning and commitment to service. The 2021 UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival, now celebrating its 50th year, will welcome elementary school, middle school, high school, and college jazz ensembles from throughout the United States. Last festival, participating schools traveled from Thailand, Washington, Texas, Maryland, Nevada, Iowa, Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, North Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Open to all levels from elementary school through college/university and semi-professional groups, the festival hosts a wide array of ensembles in a non-competitive environment. Groups may register in four categories: big bands, combos, vocal jazz groups, and vocal soloists. All groups receive recorded comments and a feedback clinic from some of our 40 artist/clinicians (college big bands receive recorded comments only). Each day, several educational workshops on topics ranging from improvisation and arranging to vocal and instrumental techniques are offered by the artist/clinicians and our main stage artists.
The UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival continues a tradition of featuring some of the most prominent names in jazz today. An important goal of the Festival is to bring artists to Colorado that are rarely or never heard in the region: 2020 marked NEA Jazz Master Delfeayo Marsalis’ festival debut, 2017 was NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan’s first performance here, and in 2014 the Wayne Shorter Quartet and the Swingle Singers appeared at the festival for the first time ever. The appearance by the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra in 2007 was the group’s debut in the State of Colorado. Likewise, the performance by the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra in 2004 was the group’s first appearance in Colorado in over 15 years, and the 2006 festival featured the Colorado debut of the Maria Schneider Orchestra.
Other past artists at the UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival include Chick Corea, The New York Voices, the Mingus Big Band, Ahmad Jamal, The Real Group, Take 6, Stefon Harris & Blackout, Slide Hampton, Cedar Walton, Bob Mintzer, Gary Burton, Benny Golson, John Abercrombie, Vince Mendoza, Rufus Reid, Louie Bellson, Art Blakey, Michael Brecker, Dave Brubeck, Bobby McFerrin, McCoy Tyner, Kurt Elling, Nicholas Payton, Kenny Werner, Jim McNeely, and Kenny Garrett to name a few. For more information on this year’s featured artists, please visit the Concerts page.