History of Eau Claire Jazz
For the past 45 years, the UWEC Jazz Festival has maintained a standard of excellence in jazz education and performance. This educational and cultural jazz festival has earned its distinction as one of the oldest and largest events by providing local, national and international artists the opportunity to showcase their creative work and by highlighting the enduring elements and important directions in this distinctly American music.
The University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire’s School of Music offers an outstanding undergraduate education for aspiring musicians and also serves as a primary cultural resource for western Wisconsin. The Jazz Studies Area, under the direction of Robert Baca, has been internationally recognized. Jazz I ensemble has received the Down Beat Magazine "Best College Big Band" Award five out of the last eight years and has had two CD recordings nominated for a Grammy Award.
Robert Baca’s dream has been to see this festival reach into the broader community and to become a destination for jazz lovers. To move closer to making that dream a reality, the UWEC Jazz Festival has been renamed the Eau Claire Jazz Festival. In it’s second year, this collaboratively sponsored festival is a community partnership involving the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire, area musicians, artists, businesses, schools and other organizations. During the month of March, the Chippewa Valley will come alive with jazz music being played throughout the community, jazz inspired art being displayed as well as educational opportunities that are free to anyone. These all are made possible by the participation of local businesses, restaurants, venues and organizations. The Claire Jazz Festival is inclusive of jazz lovers of all ages; students, faculty, community and visitors fostering a love of and appreciation for jazz thereby ensuring the future of the art form in the Midwest. This festival and the month long celebration of the arts offer many free events, providing cultural outreach to the western region of Wisconsin.
The Eau Claire Jazz Festival will feature jazz performances, clinics, master classes, a visual arts exhibit of Jazz –inspired art, and a breadth of other concert and community outreach activities. Local and national artists teach, perform and interact with Jazz Festival participants.