Jazz Ensemble welcomes guest artist for first concert


File Photo/The Lion's Roar

Michael Brothers instructs the University Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab Band at one of their last in-person performances on Nov. 20, 2019. The Jazz Ensemble is live-streaming their first concert of the Spring 2021 semester on Tuesday, March 9 at 7:30 p.m.

The University Jazz Ensemble is preparing for its first concert of the semester on Tuesday, March 9 in the Pottle Annex Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m.

Guest guitarist Phill Fest will perform alongside the ensemble during the show, which will be livestreamed on the KSLU Facebook page. 

According to Michael Brothers, director of jazz and percussion studies, each guest artist offers a learning opportunity for students and an opportunity for viewers and listeners to hear something new.

“I try to bring in guest soloists on different instruments so people have a chance to hear different things. We’ve had saxophone guest artists, we’ve had trombone, we’ve had trumpet, and I haven’t had a guitar player yet, and that was long overdue,” he said.  

Brothers said the lineup for the ensemble’s first Spring 2021 concert will include newer sounds, something viewers can look forward to.  

He said, “We’ll be doing some more modern compositions than some of the things we usually do. We’ll be doing some of the music of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, an exceptional jazz guitarist but one of the more great modern jazz guitarists.”

Fest comes from a musical family with a Brazilian background, which allowed him to develop an eclectic repertoire that includes various influences from both Brazil and the U.S. His father Manfredo Fest was a member of popular Brazilian musical group Bossa Rio, and Fest got his musical start from a young age.

“I absorbed all that, and having been born and raised in the U.S.,––my folks were from Brazil––I took in everything that was happening here. That means rock and roll, pop, everything that comes with being in the U.S. growing up, especially in the 80s and 90s,” Fest said.

His invitation to play with the university jazz ensemble has been in the works for over a year. Brothers said Fest’s unique background made him a significant choice to introduce a different sound to the university and to teach its students.

He said, “Because of his great family lineage, he’s somebody I wanted to bring here to campus for a while not only to play with the jazz ensemble, but he’s also going to do a couple of masterclasses with the guitar studio and talk about some of the different things he does including with playing guitar in a Brazilian style, which is very different than a lot of things.”

Fest is based out of West Palm Beach, Fla. and is looking forward to coming to Louisiana to expose his music to a younger generation.

“I’m looking forward to sharing the music and I’m also looking forward to playing with Michael Brothers and the rest of the staff, playing wonderful arrangements, and just being in the moment and taking it all in,” he said.

Josh Hebert, a junior music major, plays the tenor saxophone in the jazz ensemble. He said the variety of guest artists and their individual musical backgrounds brings something different to each performance.

He said, “I always love getting to work with such fantastic musicians, such as Phill Fest. They always share new information that brings our ensemble a step closer to where we all want to be. I’m the most excited about just hearing what ideas he uses in his solos.”