All that jazz

Several Eau Claire students who studied abroad together and became friends in Australia last semester will reunite Sunday to partake in the Polar Plunge.

Story by Kortney Holbrook

Walking the streets in downtown Eau Claire on Friday night, one might think they are walking onto New York City’s historic 52nd Street in 1938.

The sounds of trumpets, saxophones, drums, piano and bass will be flowing from a variety of venues on South Bartsow Street in Eau Claire this weekend as the 45th annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival kicks off.

“The idea for 52nd Street grew out of some work the board and planning committee did to focus more closely with the community to have different venues play downtown,” said Patty Horecki, executive director of the Jazz Festival.

Horecki said the Jazz Festival is a four day event hosted by Eau Claire Jazz Inc. every spring to promote a cultural experience. The festival is one of the largest and oldest events allowing local, national and international artists to showcase their talent.

“I would love for students to come out to enjoy the free events on and off campus,” Horecki said. “We really want to educate, entertain and inspire those who already are loyal listeners and new audience of jazz. We want people to understand that jazz is at the root of almost all the music they listen to today.”

Sophomore Josh Huot-Gallus said he is excited to listen to jazz in venues around the city.

“You can see combos playing and not just student ones, but also professional ones,” Huot-Gallus said. “That’s great — it’s a lot of live music all night.”

The festival will be hosting jazz performances at Memorial High School on Friday and Saturday night. Grammy-winner John Patitucci and internationally known trombonist Andy Martin will be headlining both nights along with UW-Eau Claire’s Jazz Ensemble I. On Friday night the artists will be joined by the College Honor Band, while on Saturday the High School Honors Bands will play.

“I always thought the Jazz Festival was meant only for music majors but I am really excited I can go and see Andy Martin and John Patitucci,” junior Ashley Backer said.

Along with the evening performances, there will be clinics, master classes, lectures, visual art exhibits of jazz and a variety of other concerts throughout the weekend. Martin and Patitucci both have clinics on Friday and Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. in Schofield Hall, and local artists will also be hosting some of the clinics.

“A lot of this festival is taken on by students,” Horecki said. “They volunteer, they set up, they tear down, they sell things.”

For more information on the festival and to buy tickets, visit