Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival


How to Apply

Register your Group(s) Online

Application Deadline is February 15, 2018

Already registered? Read participant information.

If you have any questions, please contact Rob Tapper at robert.tapper@umontana.edu.

Great Music and Spectacular Education

Photo of students playing instrumentsThe University of Montana College of Visual and Performing Arts in conjunction with the School of Music is proud to announce the 2018 edition of the UM Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival which will occur on March 15-16, 2018. The emphasis of this instrumental and vocal jazz festival is on education, improvisation and the jazz language.

The 2018 Festival Artists will include such talents as Steve Owen (saxophone), Allison Miller (drum set), Reggie Thomas (piano), Mike Conrad (trombone), Erik Applegate (bass) and Tanya Darby (trumpet).  On both evenings, experience a spectacular musical event with the High School Best Section Big Band and outstanding soloists from the daytime events along with more musical artistry.

The fun and learning continues throughout each day with clinics, ensemble critiques, workshops, open rehearsals and master classes with guest artists, local musicians and faculty from the University of Montana.

The UM Buddy DeFranco Festival promises to be an exciting opportunity to learn more about the language of jazz and a great weekend of music and jazz education.

2018 Guest Artists

thursday-Guest-Artists.jpgSTEVE OWEN (composer, conductor, saxophonist) is a Philip H. Knight Professor of Music and director of the University of Oregon's award-winning Jazz Studies Program.  A respected educator, Owen has presented clinics at MENC conventions across the nation and has directed All-State jazz ensembles in Colorado, Connecticut, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, California, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, and Minnesota as well as Oregon.  Steve is also a founder and co-director of the Oregon Jazz Festival, an annual workshop for college, junior high, and high school jazz ensembles, the University of Oregon Summer Jazz Improvisation Camp, and is on the faculty of the University of Kansas’ jazz camp.

NYC-based drummer/composer/teacher ALLISON MILLER gathers inspiration from a wide array of genres. Coming from the Jazz tradition, she engages her deep roots in improvisation as a vehicle to explore all music. Described by critics as a charismatic and rhythmically propulsive drummer with melodic sensibility, Miller has been named “Rising Star Drummer” and “Top 20 Jazz Drummers” in Downbeat Magazine’s acclaimed Critics Poll. Her band, Boom Tic Boom, is a 2014 recipient of Chamber Music America’s “Presenter Consortium for Jazz Grant” and is proudly sponsored by Mid- Atlantic Arts Foundation.

 REGGIE THOMAS is one of the most in demand pianists and educators in the country, his soulful, hard-swinging brand of piano immediately grabs an audience and assures them that a swinging time is set to be had by all. He has performed internationally in Canada, Italy, Poland, Senegal, and England, and his recordings include work with Clay Jenkins, Kim Richmond, Clark Terry, and Mike Vax, as well as recordings as a leader and with his jazz vocalist wife, Mardra.


MIKE CONRAD Equally accomplished on trombone and piano, has performed all over the world with a wide variety of groups. He has toured the Midwest as the pianist in Chris Merz’s quartet, and has toured China as the lead trombonist with UNC Jazz Lab Band I. His jazz festival appearances include the Rochester International Jazz Festival, the UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival, the Iowa City Jazz Festival, the Twin Cites Jazz Festival, and the Riverfront Jazz Festival in Steven’s Point, WI. One of his most memorable experiences was performing six concerts of the Music of Gil Evans at the 2012 Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy. He has also been a part of so many great recordings, and is excited to be featured on several new releases within the last year (“Where the Paths Meet,” Chris Merz; “Infância,” Cassio Vianna; “Instrumental,” Dave Chisholm; “On the Mountaintop,” Louis Hayes; and the “Romeo and Juliet Project,” UNC Jazz Lab Band I.) Conrad truly loves collaborating with other musicians, and always brings his creativity and expressiveness to each performance.

Bassist, composer, bandleader, and songwriter ERIK APPLEGATE has been called “a top-notch acoustic bass performer” by Jazz Review.com, and his music has been performed live and heard on radio stations around the world.  Erik has appeared with jazz artists including the Bob Mintzer Big Band, Nnenna Freelon, Milt Jackson, Jeff Coffin, Mulgrew Miller, Greg Gisbert, Eddie Daniels, Ingrid Jensen, Dick Oatts, George Garzone, Tom Harrell, Don Aliquo, Clay Jenkins, Ron Miles, Scott Wendholdt, Jack Walrath, Kirk Whalum, Dave Pietro, Deborah Brown, Marlena Shaw, Peter Eldridge, Bob Dorough, Billy Pierce, Alan Dawson, and others.  He toured with renowned pianist James Williams and in a trio with Harold Mabern and Ed Thigpen, and has appeared at jazz festivals, clubs, and concert series throughout the U.S. and in Europe and Australia.

TANYA DARBY is an Associate Professor at the University of Northern Texas. a She earned a master's degree in Jazz Performance from Rutgers University in 2012 and a bachelor's degree in Jazz Performance from the Manhattan School of Music in 1998. Formerly an adjunct faculty member at Temple University and The New School University, she is a current member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Roy Hargrove Big Band, The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Ron Carter’s Great Big Band, Michel Camilo Big Band, the Rufus Reid Large Ensemble and the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra. She has performed and toured with artists and ensembles including The Count Basie Orchestra, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, The Mingus Band, Clark Terry, Jon Faddis, Paquito D’Riviera, Gladys Knight, Frank Foster, Bill Cosby, Slide Hampton, George Gruntz, the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra, the Cab Calloway Orchestra, Dianne Reeves and many others. She has appeared on the television show “BET on Jazz” as part of the T.S. Monk Sextet and performed with Aretha Franklin as part of the Arista Records Twenty-Five Year Anniversary Special on NBC.


Concert schedule for the Buddy Defranco Festival