Columbus State Jazz Festival to Feature Mingus Big Band

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Jazz artists, from the high school level to the internationally respected Mingus Big Band, will come together for the inaugural Columbus State Jazz Festival Friday and Saturday, April 3-4, at RiverCenter for the Performing Arts in downtown Columbus.

“We are encouraging jazz fans of all ages to attend,” said festival director and Columbus State jazz professor Shirantha Beddage. “We have a wide variety of groups performing, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.”

The Mingus band, which specializes in the works of the late Charles Mingus, will open the Schwob School of Music-hosted festival with a concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Bill Heard Theatre. The performance ($5 general admission) will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landmark Mingus albums Mingus Ah Um and Blues And Roots. A free, pre-concert discussion at 6:45 p.m. in Studio Theatre will be led by the band members, who perform regularly at New York City’s Jazz Standard and tour North America and Europe.

Next-day programs involve performances by the Jackson County and Harris County high school jazz bands at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. respectively, and a 10:15 a.m. “CSU Jazz Workshop” — all in Studio Theatre with free admission.

The festival will close with a pair of featured concerts in the Heard theatre. The CSU Jazz Band, with guest trumpeter Melvin Jones, will perform at 1 p.m., followed by the David Brothers Super Big Band at 4 p.m.

The opening performance, directed by Beddage, will feature works by contemporary composers Maria Schneider, Dave Rivello, Neil Slater, Bob Brookmeyer and others. Joining the CSU band, Jones is director of bands for Morehouse College and has shared the stage with the likes of Quincy Jones, Antonio Hart, Jennifer Lopez, Carmen Lundy, Ray Charles and Erykah Badu.

Led by pianist Andy David and drummer John David, the David Brothers Super Big Band is respected as a stellar ensemble of jazz performers from across Georgia. The band includes CSU professors Beddage and Amy Griffiths on saxophones, as well as Jones as a trumpet soloist.

Separate from the performances, the festival will involve the professionals mentoring the high school participants through written critiques and a closed, hour-long workshop.

Concert admission discounts are $2 for senior citizens, military personnel and non-CSU students; and free with CSU ID. For tickets, contact the RiverCenter Box Office at 706-256-3612. For more on the festival, go to




Contact: Shirantha Beddage, 706-649-7291