Grad student jazzes up Spokane with festival


The Larsen Group playing together on April 20 at the House of Soul. They dedicated their set to renowned saxophonists, Bob Reynolds | Sam Jackson for The Easterner

By Sam Jackson, Reporter

EWU graduate student Rachel Bade-McMurphy brought seven days of jazz to Spokane through the Imagine Jazz Festival. The festival is closing with a beat by presenting the jazz legend, Willie Jones III.

With this being the first time the festival has ran, Bade-McMurphy has been imagining the possibilities since January. She plans to put it on for years to come and incorporate smaller events like it to bring more jazz culture to Spokane. Through this festival, many guest artists and local artists have been able to perform. As a student studying jazz pedagogy, she wanted to include master classes and clinics by guests artists for students throughout the event.

The vision for the festival goes beyond having a major jazz headliner. The festival has included many EWU students and faculty. Bade-McMurphy, who has been attending jazz festivals for 20 years, says that community was an aspect that should be incorporated into the festival.

“The jazz festivals that I’m the most fond of have a sense of community and excitement of seeing each other […],” Bade-McMurphy said. “That sense of community amongst the musicians and amongst the fans, that’s what we’re trying to go for here.”

Junior Matt Hensen, an EWU student studying music composition, played the saxophone with his band, The Larsen Group during the festival.

“I learn more from going to concerts than from practicing my instrument,” Hensen said. “The reason it’s so important is because we have to understand where we came from and where we’re going, there’s no better way to do it than actually getting out and experiencing it […]. The idea of becoming a better jazz musician is getting out and listening.”

For attendees of the festival, it gives them the opportunity to listen to music that is not typically available to this degree in Spokane.

“I feel like it’s an underrepresented type of music, but it’s a big part of music culture and this city needs it,” said Greg Larrick, graduate student at EWU.

Tickets for the Willie Jones III Quintet concert are on sale now and can be purchased on the Imagine Jazz Festival webpage. Seating tickets cost $25 and standing tickets cost $10. The show will be at the House of Soul in downtown Spokane on Wednesday, April 25 at 7:30 p.m.

“I just want to see some people make some great music and have some audience members get excited about that music,” said Bade-McMurphy. “Beyond that with bringing Willie Jones III it’s inspiration. Seeing the masters play is really just a shot in the arm as a musician.”