The Northwest College Jazz Festival is a non-competitive performance opportunity for vocal and instrumental jazz groups at all levels of proficiency. High-quality assessment and instruction will be provided by respected jazz educators in a positive and constructive learning environment. This festival encourages young musicians and teachers to grow through camaraderie and musical exchange. The day finishes with a concert with our headlining performers (see below) and outstanding student groups.
The fee for registration is $225 for Jazz Bands and Jazz Choirs, and $150 for Jazz Combos. Each entry will receive a 20-minute performance slot followed by a 20-minute adjudication slot. The deadline to register is Tuesday, February 6th. Be sure to fill out both the Festival Registration and the Setup Form for your group.
“Rhythm Is My Business” is the title of his 1989 debut recording as a bandleader, and legendary drummer Lewis Nash is all about the business of keeping rhythm.
Universally recognized as one of the great drummers in jazz history, his illustrious career now spans over four decades. Nash is one of jazz’s most recorded musicians, appearing on over 500 recordings including 10 Grammy winners and numerous Grammy nominees.
In fact, Nash has the distinction of being the only musician in jazz history featured on the winners in both the “Best Jazz Vocal” and “Best Jazz Instrumental” album categories in two separate years: the 2004 Grammys with Nancy Wilson and McCoy Tyner, and again in 2010 with Dee Dee Bridgewater and James Moody.
A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Lewis arrived in New York City in 1981 at the age of 22 and first gained international recognition as a member of vocalist Betty Carter’s trio. This was a pivotal time in his development, as he traveled the world for nearly 4 years with Carter and had the opportunity to meet and engage with many of his musical peers and predecessors. In the years to follow, Nash toured, recorded and performed with many of jazz’s most celebrated icons, and his resume reads like a “who’s who” of jazz royalty. These jazz legends include: Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, JJ Johnson, Sonny Rollins, Tommy Flanagan, Sonny Stitt, Clark Terry, Stan Getz, Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Gerry Mulligan, Hank Jones, Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, Ray Brown, Milt Jackson, Jimmy Heath, Randy Weston, Cedar Walton, Ron Carter, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and many, many more!
In 2012, The Nash, a jazz education center and performance venue named in Lewis’s honor, was established in his home town of Phoenix. It has been a focal point of the city’s jazz activity since it’s inception, and has been named consistently by Downbeat Magazine as a top jazz venue. Jazz masters Randy Weston, Jimmy Cobb and Roy Hargrove played some of the final performances of their careers at The Nash.
Lewis is in great demand for his educational expertise as well as his drumming skills, and presents clinics, masterclasses and workshops at institutions worldwide. He was a member of the very first jazz studies faculty at The Juilliard School in 2001, and has been a member of the faculty of the annual Vail Jazz Workshop for the past 20 years. In 2017, Nash joined the jazz studies faculty at Arizona State University, where he was named the Bob and Gretchen Ravenscroft Professor of Practice in Jazz. In early 2021, the Lewis Nash Scholarship Endowment was created by the university to be awarded annually to a deserving ASU undergraduate or graduate jazz performance student.
Marion Powers is a six-time DownBeat Award-winning jazz vocalist whose dynamic improvisation skills, fresh and modern arranging style, and sensitive approach to songwriting keep her in high demand from coast to coast not only as a performer, but also as an educator. While heavily influenced by classic jazz singers like Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae, and Sarah Vaughan, her experiences performing with or being mentored by Christian McBride, Dianne Reeves, Marshall Gilkes, Johnaye Kendrick, and Melissa Aldana have been some of the most instrumental to her artistic development.
Marion earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Jazz Performance from the University of North Texas (UNT) where she studied under renowned vocalists and educators, Rosana Eckert and Jennifer Barnes, and spent time as lead vocalist for the Grammy-nominated One O’Clock Lab Band. In 2018, Marion was the selected vocalist for The Jazz Aspen Snowmass Academy Big Band, where she was mentored by Christian McBride and Dianne Reeves; and, the following year, was selected as a member of the Jazz Education Network’s Sisters in Jazz Collegiate Quintet under the mentorship of educator and pianist, Ellen Rowe, and world renowned baritone sax player, Claire Daley. Among her DownBeat Awards are Outstanding Vocalist for her performance on the UNT Jazz Singers recording of “Groovin’ Hard,” and for her direction of UNT’s vocal jazz ensemble, Avenue C.
An equally gifted teacher and performer, she served as a full-time UNT Vocal Jazz teaching fellow and, after completing her graduate coursework in 2019, was promptly hired as an adjunct voice instructor. Marion maintains a worldwide voice and piano studio and recently relocated from the Dallas/Fort Worth area to begin in-person teaching at the University of Northern Colorado. Marion is in demand as a live and studio vocalist, performing with her band regularly and recording on various projects with musicians in the area.
Dr. Andrew Janak is the Instructor of Jazz Saxophone at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and active saxophonist/composer/arranger/educator throughout the Midwest and Mountain West.
Andrew has shared the stage with jazz greats Phil Woods and Jimmy Heath and recorded with Randy Brecker, Jeff Hamilton. Recently he has worked with some of the Midwest’s finest jazz musicians such as Mitch Towne, Marcus Lewis, Peter Schlamb, Nebraska Jazz Orchestra, Bob Lark’s Alumni Band Band and the Tom Matta Big Band. Andrew has several creative projects specializing in original music such as the Andrew Janak Organ Trio, Andrew Janak and Wind Armada and the Andrew Janak Octet. He also has performed/recorded with national acts such as the Temptations, Aloe Blacc, Johnny Mathis, Wayne Brady, Michael Feinstein and Justin Townes Earle. As a classical saxophonist Andrew studied with renowned performer/pedagogue Dr. Paul Haar and performed with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Wind Ensemble, Omaha Symphony, Lincoln Symphony, Lincoln Municipal Band, and various chamber groups.
Also a prolific composer, some of Andrew’s compositions have been performed/recorded by groups around the United States including the UNL Jazz Orchestra with Victor Lewis, DePaul Jazz Ensemble with Randy Brecker, Bob Lark’s Alumni Big Band and the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra. He was also a finalist for the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards and received a Downbeat Outstanding Performance award for outstanding graduate college arrangement.
Dr. Janak is also an active scholar with research interests in jazz composition, jazz saxophone and jazz improvisation pedagogy. He has presented at the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers (ISJAC) Symposium, Regional North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) Conference and the Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference. Andrew graduated with a bachelors degree in music education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a masters of music in jazz composition from DePaul University, and a DMA in jazz studies/composition from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His debut album of original music, Borrowed Time, was released in June 2017. Andrew joined the faculty of the University of Northern Colorado in Fall 2021 where he teaches applied jazz saxophone and undergraduate improvisation/jazz theory.