CHATHAM, NJ -The annual Jazz in the Middle festival of middle school jazz bands will be held Thursday, April 21, in the Chatham Middle School auditorium.

Now in its seventh year, Jazz in the Middle was the creation of CMS music teacher Christie Spriggs, who sought to provide quality performance/adjudication opportunities for middle school jazz bands.  

Spriggs traditionally selects April as the festival month, which is known as "Jazz Appreciation Month” (JAM) in the national community of Music Educators. Jazz Appreciation Month was created in 2001 by Smithsonian National Museum curator Dr. John Hasse as an annual event that pays tribute to jazz as both a living and historically unique American musical art form.

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Music educators across the country have embraced ‘JAM’ with events ranging from free concerts to educational programs. The "come and go" event begins at 4:30 p.m. and will feature middle school jazz band performances through 10 p.m.

After each performance, guest adjudicators Brian Conti (Chatham HS Band Director) and Vincent Turturiello (Scotch Plains HS Band Director) will join each band on stage for a mini-clinic.

Conti and Turturiello will be providing the middle school groups with valuable feedback from the high school director’s perspective, offering middle school players advice for developing individual and ensemble playing skills – while encouraging their continued participation in high school jazz programs. Turturiello will lead the Moonglowers in an exciting exhibition performance to finish off the evening. 

Admission is $3.00 at the door. There will be food for sale and concessions throughout the evening, and all proceeds will benefit the district Performing Arts programs. Spriggs’ CMS jazz band will perform, in addition to visiting bands from Scotch Plains, Nutley, Pittstown, Bridgewater, Elizabeth, Bedminster.

The evening will conclude with an exhibition performance of "The Moonglowers" a nationally-ranked high school ensemble from Scotch Plains under the direction of Vincent Tuturiello.