CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University’s annual Jazz Festival will feature performers including special guest guitarist and composer Paul Bollenback and will be held on an open-air stage on campus during the late afternoon and evening of Saturday, April 26.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. near the fountain outside A.K. Hinds University Center with different ensembles taking the stage each hour.
The festival opens with the WCU “Straight Ahead” Jazz Septet at 4 p.m. followed by the WCU “Modal” Jazz Sextet at 5 p.m., the Jason Decristofaro Trio at 6 p.m. and the Steve Wohlrab Trio at 7 p.m.
Headlining the festival will be Bollenback performing with the WCU Jazz Ensemble at 8 p.m.
Born in Chicago, Bollenback received his first guitar at age 7. He cultivated a lifelong interest in exotic musical sounds and timbres, having spent part of his childhood in the New York City area and part in India. Although he played electric guitar in rock ‘n’ roll bands, he became devoted to jazz fusion after he heard Miles Davis for the first time.
Bollenback majored in music at the University of Miami and went on to study, perform and record with numerous musicians. In 1997, he was named Musician of the Year as part of the Washington Area Music Awards. His album “Double Gemini” was named “CD of the Month” by 20th Century Guitar Magazine and WBGO Jazz Radio, and his release “Soul Grooves” was named Best Contemporary Jazz Album of 1999 by N’Digo Magazine.
His last two releases, “Brightness of Being” and “Invocation,” remained on the USA Jazz Week charts for several months, and “Invocation” received international critical claim.
Bollenback has appeared on “The Tonight Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Today” and “Entertainment Tonight,” and garnered a Grammy nomination in 2011 for co-production on Joey DeFrancesco’s “Never Can Say Goodbye.”
In addition to his festival performance at WCU, a master jazz improvisation class taught by Bollenback and his dress rehearsal with the WCU Jazz Ensemble will be held at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively, in the recital hall of Coulter Building and are free and open to the public.
Also as part of the jazz celebration, Bollenback will perform with the Pavel Wlosok Trio at the ISIS Music Hall at 743 Haywood Road in Asheville at 8 p.m. on Sunday, April 27. Admission will be charged for the Sunday show. For a reservation, call 828-575-2737.
In the event of rain, the festival will be held in the recital hall of Coulter Building. Info: Pavel Wlosok, associate professor of jazz studies at WCU, (828) 631-1321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.