New Jersey has played a vital roll in the history of jazz. Legends Count Basie and Wayne Shorter were born in Red Bank and Newark, respectively, Dizzy Gillespie spent the last three decades of his life in the city of Englewood, and many of the most significant records of jazz’s golden age were recorded down the road in Rudy Van Gelder’s Englewood Cliffs studio. But what of jazz’s future? Is it possible that the next iconic musician comes from our own backyard? Absolutely! And the public will soon get a chance to watch dozens of area youngsters as they begin to write their own stories in the annals of this uniquely American art form.

The award-winning music department of Sparta High School is hosting its third annual Jazz Festival on Friday, April 12, 2019. The event gathers a dozen top jazz bands from northern New Jersey, who compete for group and individual ratings.

The Festival will take place in the thousand-seat auditorium of Sparta High School, where the township’s jazz bands will host ensembles from a number of regional school districts. A variety of food will be for sale at an extensive concession stand in the school’s main lobby, as will Sparta Jazz Fest T-Shirts.

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Bands will perform in either the Middle School, Competitive, or Highly Competitive division. This year’s pro adjudicators are Montclair State University’s Bill Moring, Oscar Perez, and Mike Lee, and former Sparta Jazz Band director Chris Arnold, all of whom have put their own stamp on jazz in New Jersey and well beyond.

The 2018 Sparta High School Jazz Festival - Friday, April 12, 2019. Start time: 5:00 P.M.

The Auditorium at Sparta High School, 70 West Mountain Road, Sparta NJ 07871

Participating Groups

Middle School Division: Sparta Middle School Jazz Band, Glen Meadow Middle School Jazz Band

Competitive Division: Newton High School Jazz Band, High Point Reg. High School Jazz Band, High Point Reg. High School Jazz Ensemble, Jefferson High School Jazz Band, Kittatinny Reg High School K-Train Jazz Ensemble, Vernon High School Jazz Band (Tentative), Sparta High School’s Blues Sanction

Highly Competitive Division: West Milford High School Jazz Ensemble, West Orange High School Jazz Ensemble, Scotch Plains-Fanwood Moonglowers, Sparta High School’s Blues, Inc!

Admission: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for students, free for children under 6

Contact: Susanne Budofsky sbudofsky@gmail.com (973) 768-8760