Jazz artists revive tunes, captivate audience for 3rd annual Bill Watrous Jazz Festival

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Guest artists earned a standing ovation from audiences as they showcased the sounds of jazz during the evening concerts at the third annual Bill Watrous Jazz Festival at Sam Houston State University Friday and Saturday.

The performances were held at the Performing Arts Center and ended both jazz filled nights with powerful performances.

Special guests Bill Watrous, a famous trombone player and trumpeteer, saxaphonist Bob Mintzer , as well as the SHSU Jazz Ensemble, charmed audiences with their soulful renditions of jazz hits.

The concerts were a part of the four day festival of performance and education for middle and high school students, who performed and attend workshops by Mintzer throughout both days.

The night of concerts began with Watrous and the Jazz Ensemble playing an upbeat song titled “Lowlife”.

However, it was Mintzer who captivated audiences as he took the stage to play some of his original songs.

Mintzer joined the SHSU Jazz Ensemble on stage to play one of five songs he penned. The first song was upbeat and soulful. Mintzer captured audience members’ attention during his solo on the tenor saxophone as his fingers glided across the keys.

The song titled “March Majestic” got audience members involved as they joyfully clapped along with the beat during one of Mintzer’s solos.

Mintzer called his “A Brazilian Affair” as a samba-esque groove” piece, and again, got the audience moving along to the music.

“Lester Jumps Out,” the longest song of the night, was riddled with solo performances by not only Mintzer, but Watrous and members of the jazz ensemble as well. Aric Schneller, director of jazz studies and leader of the festival even sang a solo during the song.

The night ended with a performance by Mintzer, Watrous, the SHSU Jazz Ensemble and an old friend of Mintzer’s, Richard DeRosa, took over on the drums. The performance was cheerful as the duo closed the concert with a powerful performance, leading the crowd to give a standing ovation.

Audience member and music student Katie Delafuente said she enjoyed the last performance most.

“Bob Mintzer and Bill Watrous are such great artists,” Delafuente said. “It was great.”

Britney Bundick, another member of the audience, agreed.

“I thought it was really good,” Bundick said. “Bob Mintzer was amazing and Watrous’s playing was like singing through the trombone.”

“Never let me go” spiced up the night right from the opening, with a solo by Watrous and Schneller.

Watrous excited guests not only by his skilled trombone playing, but by his interesting tales of his experiences as a jazz musician. As Watrous concluded the final song, audience members cheered and gave them a loud applause.

Audience member Dawn Craig, said that the night’s performances showcased true passion for music.

“It was beautiful. The sound filled the whole room,” Craig said. “It was very powerful and very passionate.”