skip navigation

Rockford and Northview Jazz Bands to host MSU and Mark Whitfield

By John Vancil, 11/13/18, 9:30PM EST


The 2018 Rockford High School Jazz Band.

The award-winning Rockford and Northview High School Jazz Bands will host an afternoon of Jazz at the Max Colley Jr. Performing Arts Center, Sunday, Dec. 9.

The concert will begin at 4 p.m. and will consist of performances by Northview, Rockford, the MSU Spartans Jazz Band and special guest jazz guitarist Mark Whitfield. A collaborator with a who’s-who list of jazz musicians, Mark Whitfield’s career was bound for greatness ever since he left his Berklee College of Music roots in the late 1980s. He earned “The Best Young Guitarist in the Business” nod in 1990 by the New York Times and a stack of accolades ever since. Mark has performed and recorded with many well-known artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Smith, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Carmen McCrae, Dianne Reeves, Joe Williams, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis and many more. Mark is the December Jazz Artist in Residence at Michigan State University.

The MSU jazz studies area is committed to the highest level of performance, mentoring, education, and community outreach. This unique curriculum features nationally, and internationally renowned faculty members drawn from the highest ranks of the jazz community. All faculty members have experience performing with top recording and performing artists in the jazz music industry. This is the third consecutive year that Michigan State has collaborated with Rockford and Northview to bring nationally acclaimed jazz artists to Grand Rapids for performance.

Directed by Cullen McCarthy, the Rockford High School Jazz Band is a co-curricular band activity, meeting once a week outside of class times to practice, and playing festivals and competitions throughout the winter and spring. In 2017 the band won the Michigan State University Simply Ellington festival and in 2018 was invited to perform at the Detroit Jazz Festival over Labor Day Weekend. The Detroit Jazz Festival is the largest free Jazz Festival in the world.

Under the direction of Greg Wells, the Northview High School Jazz band has been a perennial top performer in competitions both within Michigan and across the country. The band has received first division ratings at the MSBOA State Jazz Festival since 1975, has won “Best Band” awards at many college invitationals and have performed at the Detroit Jazz Festival over nineteen times, as well as internationally at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

The Max Colley Jr. Performing Arts Center is located at 4451 Hunsberger Ave NE in Grand Rapids. Tickets are $10 general admission for adults, and $5 general admission for students and seniors. Tickets are available from members of the Rockford High School Jazz Band, or at the door.