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Late Show bassist Endea Owens to play MSU jazz festival

Jazz Spectacular marks the end of an amazing jazz music season at MSU.

The MSU Jazz Studies program presents the 42nd annual Jazz Spectacular Festival featuring jazz bassist and MSU alumna Endea Owens. Three events over four days will kick off on Wednesday, April 10, and conclude with the series finale concert on Saturday, April 13. The celebrated festival is known for its variety of live performances that include small groups, large orchestras, a swing dance, and performance competitions.

Hosted in jazz cabaret style, the series starts with two evenings in MSU’s intimately scaled jazz venue Murray Hall in the Music Building. Wednesday will feature the crowd favorite Swing Dance with performances by MSU Jazz Orchestras, followed by the big band sounds of MSU Jazz Nonets on Thursday.

The popular jazz series will conclude on Saturday with bands participating in the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington Regional High School Jazz Band Competition. Running from 9 AM to 6 PM in multiple venues of the Music Building, the competition highlights the music of Duke Ellington and other big band composers with performances before a panel of Jazz at Lincoln Center clinicians and judges. The festival will wrap up at 8 PM in the Fairchild Theatre of the MSU Auditorium with the Finale Concert that will open with the outstanding high school jazz band of the day. The main feature of the night is the MSU Professors of Jazz, plus Jazz Orchestra I and special guest Owens.

Endea Owens, a graduate of the MSU College of Music, has quickly become a luminary among jazz bassists and composers, known for her unique instrumental command and vibrant stage presence. Hailing from Detroit, her musical journey began at an early age, deeply influenced by the rich cultural tapestry of her surroundings. Her bass technique reveals rhythmic precision and emotional depth, effortlessly guiding her performance with a blend of tradition and innovation. Her expressive playing style, marked by soulful improvisation, captivates audiences. Owens is a member of the house band seen nightly on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from MSU in 2015 studying under Rodney Whitaker, university distinguished professor of jazz bass and director of jazz studies.

“I cannot think of a better way to wrap up our season of jazz,” Whitaker said. “We are excited to reunite and perform with Endea this year, who will also receive our distinguished alumni award at this year’s graduation ceremonies. Concertgoers will be thrilled with the lineup we have in store for them this year, and Endea will be a powerful presence to close out the festival.”

  • Wednesday, April 10, Swing Dance
    7:30 p.m. Murray Hall, general admission: $12 adults, $10 seniors, students free

  • Thursday, April 11, Jazz Nonets
    7:30 p.m. Murray Hall, general admission: $12 adults, $10 seniors, students free. Generously sponsored by the Jenny Chung and Family for Human Rights Fund.
  • Saturday, April 13, Jazz at Lincoln Center: Essentially Ellington Regional High School Jazz Band Festival
    9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Murray Hall, multiple locations in Billman Music Pavilion, free.
  • Saturday, April 13, Finale Concert with Endea Owens 
    8:00 p.m., Fairchild Theatre, MSU Auditorium, reserved seating: $25 adults, $20 seniors, $15 students. Generously sponsored by Leonard and Sharon Tabaka, and Ken and Sandy Beall.

For more information about this event series and more, visit music.msu.edu/events.

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