MICHIGAN CITY — Get ready for a free, 6-hour-long celebration of jazz.
Michigan City’s Uptown Arts District will be the site of a top flight musical event on Nov. 30 when it presents the first Foster-Golden Uptown JazzNest Fest free of change and open to the public. The event will take place at the First Presbyterian Church, 121 W. 9th St., Michigan City.
JazzNest will feature multiple sets of music and even a brief educational jazz appreciation opportunity for the public, organizers said. A special variety of refreshments will be available for the duration of the program which will feature several sets of jazz. Persons are welcome to come for the entire program or drop in for a set, between shopping at the stores in the arts district as part of a Shop Local promotion seen in many communities.
“Our goal this first year is to welcome all to enjoy selections from the varied jazz repertory though our performances, and especially to meet and speak with all the musicians,” said JazzNest Fest co-organizer Billy Foster.
Foster, a pianist, composer, producer and music educator, has performed professionally for more than 35 years. He was a jazz piano instructor at Valparaiso University for 34 years. He teaches at Indiana University Northwest. Foster is a graduate of Defiance College and a masters in Music from Roosevelt University. Foster has performed with Art Farmer, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Ernie Watts, and George Coleman and Jon Faddis. He co- hosts a weekly radio show, The Billy Foster Jazz Zone on WGVE Gary, Indiana. Foster’s trio plays a wide array of jazz styles.
“Our jazz musicians love to exchange ideas and knowledge with everyone," he said. "Sharing the messages that jazz offers to our audience is an honor and a joy. Like all music, jazz has the potential to speak a universal language, and everyone can benefit from this.”
“Michigan City will be among the Northwest Indiana spots to feature the immensely varied styles that jazz offers. It’s a great community to present in,” said Renee Miles-Foster, who has performed with her friend and husband, Billy, and his Trio for many years.
The line-up features:
• 1-1:30 p.m. An introductory educational program entitled Riffin’ on Jazz History. Presented by educator, composer, lecturer and veteran jazz musician Billy Foster, it will offer brief insights into the artistry and background of jazz, and the importance of jazz’s legacy for today and the future.
Headlining the varied program will be guest artists:
• 2-3:15 p.m. Tenor saxophonist Carl Coan. Coan has performed for more than 30 years on all saxophones and also electronic wind instruments. A graduate of the Berkley School of Music in Boston, Coan has authored books on music education and teaches saxophone. Coan is originally from Michigan City.
• 3:45-5 p.m. Vocalist Renee Miles-Foster. Miles-Foster, originally from Chicago, graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington. Studying with notable teachers and performers, she has performed gospel, spiritual, popular music and jazz throughout the United States and abroad for more than 50 years. Influenced by Sarah Vaughan, Mahalia Jackson, and Ella Fitzgerald, she is recognized for her exciting jazz interpretations, virtuosity and charismatic personality. She has performed with husband, jazz musician Billy Foster and his trio for many years.
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. Jazz guitarist Henry Johnson will perform the last set. Johnson, born in Chicago, is internationally known for his stellar solos and performances with such greats as Hank Crawford, Freddie Hubbard, Ramsey Lewis, Stanley Turrentine, Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie and Nancy Wilson. He has led his own bands since 1982. A number of his compositions have been chart toppers, and some are considered jazz guitar classics. Johnson is also a writer for Downbeat Magazine and is on the Jazz Faculty of the Chicago College of Performing Arts.
All headliners will be accompanied by Billy Foster and the All Stars, featuring Bruce Evans, Don Lerman, Darrel Tidaback and Lannie Turner.
“Jazz is one of the greatest forms of music the world over," Foster said. "We know that people will be enthralled and entertained by the skill, personality and grace of our performers, and we can’t wait to bring it on, right here, in Michigan City!"
Lead sponsors are the Michigan City MainStreet Association and media sponsor WDCB 90.9 FM Jazz Radio, Chicago.
The First Presbyterian Church is handicapped accessible and parking is ample.
For more information, contact The Nest at 219-262-5200.