MSU College of Music presents 34th annual Jazz Spectacular April 10-12

Drummer Jeff Hamilton comes to MSU as third artist in MSU Federal Credit Union Jazz Artist in Residence program

The Michigan State University College of Music presents the 34th annual Jazz Spectacular April 10 to April 12. Jazz Spectacular includes exceptional jazz performances, a swing dance, the regional Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition, and a wrap-up concert with jazz drummer Jeff Hamilton and the Be-Bop Spartans.

Thanks to the $1 million endowment from the MSU Federal Credit Union, the largest-ever investment in the college’s curriculum, the College of Music welcomes Hamilton to Michigan April 7-12, 2014. Jazz teacher, arranger, and composer Hamilton will hold a residency where he will teach MSU jazz students, present master classes, and perform. He will work with local high school and middle school jazz students across Michigan, focusing especially on diverse communities. He will also be involved in the competition and concert at MSU for Jazz Spectacular on Saturday, April 12.

Born in Indiana, Hamilton grew up listening to his parent’s big band records and at the age of eight began playing the drums. He later attended Indiana University where he studied with John Avon Ohlen. He received his first break playing with the New Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and joined Lionel Hampton’s Band that led to becoming a member along with John Clayton, of the Monty Alexander Trio. Today Hamilton has nearly 200 recordings and performs all throughout the world.  He currently tours with his own trio, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, and with Diana Krall.

“I’ve known Jeff for many years,” says Rodney Whitaker, director of MSU jazz studies, “and he has a great rapport with students as well as with audiences. He is one of the most talented drummers in the world, and his residency will be an exciting way to wrap up our first year of the MSUFCU jazz artists in residence.”

34th Annual Jazz Spectacular Schedule

Thursday, April 10
Jazz Octets I, II, III, IV
7:30 p.m. Cook Recital Hall, Music Building

Tickets: $10, $8 seniors, free for students

Friday, April 11
Swing Dance and concert with Jazz Orchestra I, II, III
7:30 p.m. MSU Union Ballroom

Tickets: $10, $8 seniors, free for students

Saturday, April 12
Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition (See schedule here)
8 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. MSU Union Main Lounge FREE

Saturday, April 12
Wrap-up Concert with Jazz Orchestra I (Be-Bop Spartans, conducted by Rodney Whitaker) and Jeff Hamilton, drums
8 p.m. Fairchild Theatre, MSU Auditorium
Preceded by the Outstanding High School Jazz Band of the Day

Reserved seating tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $15 for students — available from the College of Music box office — in person at the Music Building, Room 102, 333 W. Circle Drive or over the phone at (517) 353-5340 — online at, or at the door one hour before the show.

Jazz Spectacular is generously sponsored by Jack and Dottie Withrow.

Additional information about Hamilton’s weeklong residency

In addition to Hamilton’s involvement in the 34th annual Jazz Spectacular he will also have a busy schedule for his weeklong artist in residency.

Jeff Hamilton Artist in Residency Schedule:

  • Monday, April 7, Music Building, Room 103, 333 W. Circle Drive, East Lansing
    • 8 p.m. Master class  
  • Tuesday, April 8, Cheboygan High School, 801 W. Lincoln Avenue, Cheboygan
    • 11 a.m. Master class with Cheboygan High School students (Jeff Hamilton and Rodney Whitaker)
    •  7 p.m. Concert  
  • Thursday, April 10, Martin Luther King, Jr. High School, 3200 E Lafayette St, Detroit
    • 10 a.m. Master class with MLK, Jr. High School students
    • 11 a.m. Concert
    • 4:10-6 p.m. Jazz Orchestra I and Jeff Hamilton rehearsal in Music Building, Room 120.
  • Friday, April 11, Location TBD
    • 3-5 p.m. Master class with MSU students  
  • Saturday, April 12, Fairchild Theatre, MSU Auditorium, 542 Auditorium Road, East Lansing
    • 8 p.m. Concert 

Read Hamilton’s full bio here. Download a high-res photo of Hamilton here.

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