CMU's 45th Annual Jazz Weekend, one of the largest jazz festivals in the country, was developed in the early 1970's by music professor, Jack Saunders.  Jack was known as a devout, determined and successful recruiter, and conceived Jazz Weekend as a powerful tool to attract students to CMU.  During his 37 year tenure at CMU, Jack served as director of Jazz Lab I, professor of French horn, director of the Marching Chips and conductor of several concert bands in addition to performing with the Powers Woodwind Quintet.

It was this drive, strong work ethic and dedication to student recruitment which prompted Jack to come home one night and share with his wife, Rozi, 'we are going to host a Jazz Festival.'   Since that day Jazz Weekend has hosted top headliners such as Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Chuck Mangione, Bobby Shew and many others. Jazz Weekend has also brought CMU exceptional high school musicians from across the state of Michigan.  Many of these students have become music educators themselves and are carrying on the legacy of promoting and supporting music education by bringing their students to compete in Jazz Weekend.  



Current CMU music faculty Robbie Smith, associate professor of Jazz Studies and director of Jazz Lab I and John Nichol, professor of saxophone, were both involved in Jazz Weekend as CMU music students and now work with trombone professor, Bob Lindahl, in the programming and production of the event.  "As a student, Jazz Weekend helped me realize the possibility of jazz music as a profession," Robbie Smith states.  "And now, I am able to enjoy that career path and share its opportunities with today's student musicians."

For more than 20 years, School of Music and Jazz Weekend alums Dave Jensen, '89 (Director, Royal Oak High School) and Mike Sekich '90, '96 (Director, Stevenson High School) have each brought their respective students back to campus to compete in Jazz Weekend.  Sekich, who, as a CMU student was a member of Jazz Lab I and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia observes, "Jazz Weekend is a very special event for me, and it means I am part of a strong legacy.  Jack's passion for this event was designed around motivating and inspiring young people to play music.  I am now," continued Sekich, "years later, able to continue that legacy with my students. There are many enjoyable aspects to Jazz Weekend; seeing my students compete, hearing former students perform as college students, visiting with fellow CMU alums and friends and of course making a trip to The Pixie for a few burgers."



Dave Jensen's tenure with Jazz Weekend began as a little brother listening to big brother Bob's Jazz Lab I's performances.  He later attended CMU, landed a trombone spot with Jazz Lab I as a freshman and then served as Jazz Weekend coordinator; a role, which, years later was filled by his daughter Kyrstin and now son, Andrew as Dave affirms, "Besides being an outstanding musical opportunity, Jazz Weekend reminds me of my parents, my brother, my wife, my kids, my lifelong friends and classmates, the music faculty and most of all Jack Saunders and Doc Rivard, my former trombone professor.  I was fortunate to have worked with Jack for many years on Jazz Weekend.  His contributions to music education are immeasurable and there is not a day goes by when I do not apply something I learned from him into my own teaching."   Jensen adds, "Music was not the only thing I learned from Jack.  I fondly remember one of the most important tasks we students did the morning of Jazz Weekend was picking up the doughnuts from Robaire's Bakery.  Jack insisted on having a cherry doughnut every year.  You certainly did not want to be the one to fall short on that task!"



In keeping with this vibrant legacy, on February 1-2 jazz riffs will once again resonate across CMU's campus during the 45th Annual Jazz Weekend.  From the initial downbeat to the last chord, the public will enjoy a full line-up of jazz performances by CMU faculty, students and the most talented high school jazz musicians from across Michigan.  These students will perform for top Midwest clinicians and adjudicators, many of whom are CMU alums. 

On Thursday, February 1st Jazz Weekend opens with CMU Faculty Jazz Soloists performing with Jazz Lab I in Staples Family Concert Hall in the CMU music building.  This free concert starts at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, February 2nd features a variety of free concerts, including 66 high school big bands plus combos from 51 schools performing from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. in Plachta Auditorium, Powers Ballroom, Bovee University Center Rotunda, Staples Family Concert Hall, Chamichian Recital Hall, and Dietz Rehearsal Room.  For a complete performance schedule visit:

CMU student jazz ensembles will perform in the Bovee University Center's Down Under Club starting at 10:00 a.m. with the Michael Hanna Trio, followed by Central Wails Saxophone Orchestra at 11:00 a.m. and the Donovan Boxey Nonet at 1:15 p.m.    CMU's JazzBone will perform at 3:30 p.m. in Warriner Hall's Plachta Auditorium followed by Jazz Central at 5:00 p.m.

The festival culminates at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 2nd when international jazz trombonist, Andy Martin performs in Plachta Auditorium.

A world-class jazz musician, Martin is featured as leader or co-leader on twelve albums. These albums showcase his collaboration with other top jazz artists such as Carl Fontana, Pete Christlieb, Bobby Shew, and Eric Marienthal.

Martin is also well known for his work with virtually every big band in L.A. He is the lead trombonist and featured soloist with Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, the lead trombonist and soloist for The Tom Kubis Band, and was a featured soloist for the Bill Holman Big Band for 15 years. He has appeared in groups led by Jack Sheldon, Louis Bellson, Quincy Jones, Matt Cattingub, Bob Curnow, Patrick Williams, and Sammy Nestico, among others.

Andy Martin has long been one of L.A.'s most prominent trombonists for commercial recordings, television and motion picture soundtracks and live theater. He has contributed on albums for many popular artists, including the Pussycat Dolls, Coldplay, and Michael Bublé. His television performance credits include the Grammys, the Emmys, the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

In addition Martin has been the lead trombonist on television shows Dancing With The Stars and American Idol, and has regularly contributed to the soundtracks of major television series such as Family GuyAmerican Dad, and King of the Hill. His motion picture soundtrack credits span over 150 major films.

Tickets for Andy Martin's performance are limited and can be purchased by calling CMU Ticket Central at 888-347-3872.