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Jazzing it up in the Parkland

High school and junior high bands from throughout Missouri will converge on North County High School April 8-9 for the 18th annual North County Jazz Festival.

Philip Brown, associate professor of Jazz Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, will be featured as guest soloist in concert with the Mineral Area Kicks Band April 9.  Tickets for the concert at 7:30 p.m. are $5 for adults, $ 3 for senior citizens and students. Tickets may be purchased at the door.

“North County has a great tradition in hosting this jazz festival and we invite everyone who loves jazz to join us,” said Shelley Layton, Director of North County Bands.

The event begins April 8 with the annual Band Booster Spaghetti Dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. in the high school commons area. The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children, 12 and under and senior citizens. Spaghetti with meat sauce and meatless spaghetti will be available, along with salad, bread and dessert.

“We had such a crowd last year that we ran out of food,” said Donna Hickman, dinner coordinator. “We are making more this year hoping for a bigger crowd.”

As the dinner winds up, the award-winning North County High School Jazz Ensemble will perform. The Ensemble  earned a Superior Rating at the Southeast Missouri State University Jazz Festival and the Rhythm sections was named “Outstanding Rhythm Section” at the Southern Illinois Carbondale Jazz Festival. The band took second place at the Mineral Area College Jazz Festival.

On April 9, the festival starts at 7:40 a.m. in the auditorium with the North County Middle School band as the first band to perform. Bands perform every 25 minutes with the last performing at  5  p.m. Performances are free and open to the public. Entries will be accepted until March 21 by contacting Layton at or calling 573-431-3300.

“This is a great opportunity to encourage these students and hear some great jazz,” said Layton.

An awards ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. with ratings for bands and outstanding musicianship awards given to students who excel. Bands already scheduled to perform include Crystal City, Dexter, Farmington, Herculaneum, Hillsboro, Northwest, Potosi, Seckman and Viburnum.

The festival concludes with a concert at 7:30 p.m. featuring the North County Jazz Ensemble, the Mineral Area Kicks Band and Brown, who Layton says is “an extraordinary bass player.”

Since 1991, Brown has been associate professor of Jazz Studies and Double Bass, as well as coordinator of Music Business, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. There he performs regularly with the New Arts Jazztet (NAJ), whose growing reputation has placed the group at schools and jazz venues throughout the Midwest. Recently invited to perform at the 2010 Jazz Education Network Conference in St. Louis, the NAJ is regularly selected for inclusion in the Illinois Arts Council’s Artstour Roster.

Brown has fronted his own studio group as well, introduced on his first release as leader, Hope Street Saunter (Carbondale: a caldera productions, 2003) by the Phil Brown Quartet, with guitarist Fareed Haque, pianist Bradley Williams, and drummer Tom Hipskind. These recordings are available through Brown’s web site, He also can be heard on the compact discs that accompany the 2-volume Jazz Tunes For Improvisation by Dan Haerle, Jack Petersen and Rich Matteson, with the North Texas State University Faculty Jazz Group, and on a number of other recordings.

As an orchestral bassist, Brown was principal of the Paducah Symphony Orchestra for 7 years. He also has performed as a full-time member of the Amarillo and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestras, and as a guest member of the Northwest Indiana, the Savannah, and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras, and most recently, the Chicago Chamber Orchestra.

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