March 3, 2021


The Wells School of Music at West Chester University will again bring world-class entertainment and free jazz to the surrounding community in the form of the 30th Annual Jazz Festival.  From March 24-27, students, educators, and audiences alike are invited to enjoy virtual jazz concerts and participate in live and pre-recorded master classes with jazz ensembles and experts. For a full listing and details visit A link to register for and view events will be available on the website by March 15. Teachers can register by emailing

Jonathan Ragonese is the Director of Jazz Studies at West Chester University and the curator for this year’s festival. Ragonese says, “West Chester University has enjoyed a long history and commitment to great jazz programming. Our own faculty jazz group, as well as our beloved student jazz ensembles, the Criterions and the Statesman, are among the many points of pride for the Wells School of Music. This year’s virtual festival is a little different, but still offers many opportunities for members of the community to enjoy jazz music from some of the finest artists in our region and beyond for FREE, and to participate in master classes. We hope students, teachers and audiences in our community will take full advantage of these offerings, and will share in our excitement for this fantastic programming.”

New this year is a website portal specific to teachers and their students.

Ragonese adds, “The portal will allow a relaxed access point for zoom-exhausted teachers and their students to view concerts and master classes at their leisure. The portal will include teaching and learning tools created by West Chester University professors and the guest artists, and will be live from the start of the festival through mid-May.”

In a typical year, a festival highlight is welcoming area high school jazz bands to the West Chester University campus to make music together. This year, students will still be able to engage with West Chester University professors and students in the form of four live, big band master classes hosted by the Criterions Jazz Ensemble on Saturday, March 27th. The classes are specific to section and will include demonstrations, Q & A, and discussion.

Email Jonathan Ragonese at for information and to register for portal and master class access.

Jazz Festival Concert and Master Class Schedule:

 Wednesday, March 24

Jazz Fest1 p.m. – Steve Rudolph, Piano (Master Class) - Rudolph studied trumpet and composition at Butler University, turning to the piano at age 22. He moved to Harrisburg, PA in 1978, and is largely responsible for the growth of the jazz scene in Central PA. Steve Rudolph has served as producer, arranger and performer on many recordings, with eleven acclaimed CDs to his name. He has toured extensively in the U.S. and abroad. Currently a Yamaha Keyboard Artist, he is in demand as a clinician and performer. More details at

8 p.m. - WCU Faculty Jazz Group (Virtual Concert) - Featuring Dan Cherry (trombone), David Cullen (guitar), Christopher Hanning (drumset), Marc Jacoby (vibraphone), Terry Klinefelter (piano), Peter Paulsen (bass), Jonathan Ragonese (Saxophone), John Swana (Valve Trombone/EWI).

Thursday, March 25

3 p.m. – Dave Allen, Guitar (Master Class) - Guitarist and Composer Dave Allen was firstJazz Fest recognized by Guitar Player Magazine as a talent to watch at 16 years old. He has been praised by critics as "An exciting and unique player in the mold of Pat Metheny, Ben Monder and Adam Rogers. Monster chops, harmonic resourcefulness, strong melodic sense, considerable compositional talent ". (Lyle Robinson of Jazz Guitar Life) Born in Philadelphia, Allen began performing and composing at the age of 15. He moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan School of Music. Over the next twenty years Allen performed with many of the most respected musicians in jazz today. He has released three critically acclaimed recordings and has been written about in the New York Times, Downbeat Magazine and Jazz Times Magazine. He has toured with his own projects and as a sideman throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia. Allen has two critically acclaimed CDs featuring his original compositions; "Untold Stories" and "Real and Imagined"

8 p.m. – Paul Jost, Voice and Improvisation (Master Class) - Paul Jost is an eclectic artist. A vocalist, drummer, arranger and composer who performs regularly in New York, Philadelphia and New Jersey along with recent tours in South Korea, Ireland and Germany. His solo CD Breaking Through (Dot Time Records) continues to receive raves worldwide. One of his originals, "Book Faded Brown," has been recorded by The Band, Rick Danko and Carl Perkins. Jost's newest album in the works, Born to Run Reimagined, was recorded live at The Bitter End this fall with Jim Ridl, John Swana, Donald Edwards, Chico Huff, Tony Miceli and mixed by Toby Scott. Paul can be heard on SiriusXM Radio along with The Jost Project, Can't Find My Way Home (Dot Time Records) performing classic rock in a jazz format

Jazz Fest8 p.m. – Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Hero Trio (Virtual Concert) - Hailed by Pitchfork as "jaw-dropping, one of the finest saxophonists going,” alto saxophonist, composer and educator Rudresh Mahanthappa is widely known as one of the premier voices in jazz of the 21st century. He has over a dozen albums to his credit, including the acclaimed Bird Calls, which topped many critics' best-of-year lists for 2015. Rudresh has been named alto saxophonist of the year for six of seven years running in Downbeat Magazine’s International Critics’ Polls (2011-2013, 2015-2017), and for five consecutive years by the Jazz Journalists' Association (2009-2013) and again in 2016. He won alto saxophonist of the year in the 2016 JazzTimes Magazine Critics' Poll and was named the Village Voice's "Best Jazz Artist" in 2015. He has also received the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, among other honors, and is currently the Anthony H. P. Lee '79 Director of Jazz at Princeton University.

Friday, March 26

12 p.m. – Michael Mossman, Composition and Arranging (Master Class) - Mossman is Director of Jazz Studies at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College/CUNY and is also on the faculty of the Juilliard School in New York City. His early career included a tour of Europe with Anthony Braxton in 1978 and tours with Roscoe Mitchell in the early 1980s. He also did session work in the 1980s for Styx among others. He played with Lionel Hampton, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, and Machito before joining the Blue Note Records ensemble Out of the Blue in 1985. Mossman received a Grammy nomination in 2013 for Best Instrumental Arrangement for his "Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite for Ellington.” His work with Academy Award-winning director Fernando Trueba includes scoring music for the Academy Award nominated (2012) film Chico and Rita. Mossman has been a guest performer, arranger, and conductor with radio orchestras in Germany. He has conducted the Bilbao Orkesta Sinfonica in Spain in a program of his own works. He arranged and conducted "Mambo Nights" with Arturo Sandoval and "Missa Afro-Cubana" with the WDR Bigband of Cologne and Spirits Dancing with David Sanborn with the HR Bigband of Frankfurt (2009). "Latin Jazz Latino" with Joe Gallardo was recorded by the NDR Bigband of Hamburg and released by Skip Records (2006). His ballet Beneath the Mask was performed at Harris Theater in Chicago by Jon Faddis and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble and the Deeply Rooted Dance Company in 2006. His arrangement of Faddis' "Teranga" was performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra at Kimmel Center in 2006. His arrangement of Paquito D'Rivera's "I Remember Diz" was performed by the Louisiana Philharmonic in 2010. He has arranged for the Tri-City Symphony of Davenport, Iowa (2011). His "Latin Tinge" was performed at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C with Paquito D'Rivera and the Quartet Indigo string quartet in 2010.Jazz Fest

8 p.m. – West Chester University Statesman Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo (Virtual Concert) - The Statesmen Jazz Ensemble is the second full big band instrumentation at WCU. This evening’s concert features big band music plus songs played by three jazz combos of the university in a small group setting

Saturday, March 27

8 p.m. – WCU’s Acclaimed Criterions Jazz Ensemble featuring the music of Michael Mossman (Virtual Concert) - The Criterions is the longest running University jazz band in the country. Originating in the 1920s, they were a student-led ballroom dance band, and provided entertainment for University dances, proms and post-Friday night games. As times changed, the “Crites” became a faculty-led Jazz Ensemble by the early 1980s when the School of Music began Jazz curricula. They are known for their mastery of American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century. They will perform in concert with trumpeter Michael Mossman.

High School Jazz Festival - WCU created a platform for students to watch and learn at their pace through a series of interactive master classes with the Criterions and Latin Jazz Ensemble, focusing on different sections of the bands. High School teachers should contact Jonathan Ragonese, Director of Jazz Studies, for more information at

West Chester University’s Wells School of Music offers students an outstanding opportunity in concentrated performance and musicianship through its educational centerpiece — the Applied Music Department. The School’s superior performance and practice venues include 22 new Steinways, Skinner organ, tech lab, Roland piano lab, and more. Students study with renowned faculty who have dual careers as dedicated educators and professional musicians. Faculty provide private lessons for all music students and are the directors for numerous student ensembles. The School supports a wide variety of performance degrees, including a Bachelor of Music in Performance, as well as a Master of Music in Performance. Graduates pursue successful careers at major institutions and teach music education at home and abroad.







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