Wycliffe Gordon is headlining UofL's 25th annual Jazz Fest.
Wycliffe Gordon is headlining UofL's 25th annual Jazz Fest.

Acclaimed trombone player Wycliffe Gordon will headline the University of Louisville School of Music’s 25th annual Jazz Fest Feb. 22-25.

Since 1992, Jazz Fest has brought jazz music’s most celebrated names to Louisville for concerts, workshops and master classes and Jazz Fest 2017 is no different. The festival kicks off at 8 p.m. Feb. 22 in Bird Recital Hall with an International Night of Jazz featuring musicians from Colombia, Brazil, Republic of Georgia and other countries.

Mike Tracy, director of the festival and the School of Music’s jazz studies program, met several of the musicians in his travels last year as a Fulbright Senior Specialist to Tbilisi, Georgia, where he taught workshops and performed at the Kavkaz Jazz Festival.

“This night is really a highlight for me. It brings the collaboration between UofL and the Tbilisi State Conservatoire full circle,” Tracy said.

The festival kicks off with Metta Quintet’s performance at 8 p.m. Feb. 24 in Comstock Concert Hall. The quintet is the resident ensemble for JazzReach, a nationally recognized New York City nonprofit dedicated to the promotion, performance, creation and education of jazz music.

Gordon will perform at 8 p.m. Feb. 25 in Comstock. His technique, signature sound and mastery of the plunger mute has solidified him as a top trombonist of his generation. Downbeat Critics Poll named Gordon “Best Trombone” for the last four years and the Jazz Journalists Association named him “Trombonist of the Year” for the past nine years. In 2015, Gordon was dubbed “Best Trombone” by the Jazzed Reader’s Poll and the Swing Jazz Culture Foundation awarded him with the Louis Armstrong Memorial Prize.

UofL’s Jazz Fest celebrates America’s indigenous music and is part of the university’s observance of Black History Month. Since Tracy started the festival, it’s become a beloved Louisville tradition, furthered the education of hundreds of students and drawn jazz greats to Louisville such as Dave Brubeck, Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, Dr. Billy Tayor, Marian McPartland, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Brecker, Toots Thielemans, Paquito D’Rivera, The Heath Brothers and more.

Niki King
Niki King Jones is positive she has the best job at the University of Louisville, serving the communication needs of the departments of fine arts and theatre, the School of Music, University Libraries and Alumni – all the fun, creative stuff. Before coming to UofL in 2015, Niki held communication positions in both private and nonprofit sectors in Louisville, Ky., including at Heaven Hill Distilleries and the Jewish Community of Louisville. For 10 years prior, she was a reporter at various newspapers across the country, most recently The Courier-Journal. Niki graduated from the University of Memphis with a BA in journalism and has a masters degree in community and leadership development from the University of Kentucky.