Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond will pay homage to jazz legend and alumnus Bill Evans with its annual festival in his honor this month.

The 14th annual Bill Evans Jazz Festival honors the deceased seven-time Grammy Award winner and 1950 Southeastern graduate, considered by many as the most influential jazz pianist of his generation.

Sponsored by the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, this year’s festival has expanded to include a high school jazz band festival and a performance and master class by Charles Pillow, assistant professor of saxophone and woodwinds at the Eastman School of Music in New York City.

“With five CDs to his credit, Pillow has established himself as one of the premier woodwind multi-instrumentalists of today,” said Paul Frechou, associate director of bands. “His orchestrations, including Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition,’ Gustav Holst’s ‘The Planets,’ and ‘Van Gogh Letters’ have earned him critical acclaim.”

As a fluent performer, teacher and touring musician, Frechou added, Pillow has performed on more than 100 recordings of jazz and pop artists, including those of Michael Brecker, Maria Schneider, David Sanborn, Joe Henderson, Bob Mintzer, Bob Belden, Jay Z, David Liebman, Mariah Carey, Chaka Khan and Luther Vandross.

This year’s festival will include:

  • The Southeastern Alumni Band will perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Pottle Music Building Auditorium. Admission is free.
  • On Thursday, April 23, the Southeastern Jazz Combos, directed by John Madere, lecturer of double bass, will perform in Pottle Music Building Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.
  • Adjudication of high school bands begins throughout the day on Friday, April 24. Also on Friday, Charles Pillow and Friends will perform at 7:30 p.m. in Pottle Auditorium. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Call Frechou at (985) 549-3825 to order tickets.
  • Adjudication of high school bands continues on Saturday morning, April 25. At noon, Pillow will give a master class in Pottle Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. At 2 p.m. that day, the Southeastern Jazz Ensemble, conducted by Frechou and Madere, will present their concert with Pillow as special guest. They will perform a few of his arrangements and the world premiere of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” arranged for Jazz Band by Pillow.

For more information about the Bill Evans Jazz Festival, email Frechou at paul.frechou@southeastern.edu or Madere at john.madere@southeastern.edu.