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Arts & Entertainment WCU Jazz Festival features saxophonist, Slovakian drummer April 27, 29

Donny McCaslin, tenor saxophonist from New York City will conduct a jazz improvisation masterclass on Saturday, April 27, as well as perform at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center with the WCU Jazz Ensemble and special guest Marian Sevcik from Slovakia among others.Open dress rehearsals as well as performances will highlight the 2013 Jazz Festival at Western Carolina University, with public events April 27 and 29.

Donny McCaslin, tenor saxophonist from New York City, will conduct a jazz improvisation masterclass in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 27, followed by dress rehearsals with the WCU Jazz Ensemble at 2:30 p.m. and with jazz faculty and guests at 4 p.m. These events are free and open to the public.

The evening performance at the Bardo Arts Center will begin at 7:30 p.m. with Mc- Caslin and the WCU Jazz Ensemble, directed by Pavel Wlosok, assistant professor of jazz studies. It will continue at 8:45 p.m. when McCaslin performs with guests and WCU faculty Mike Holstein (acoustic bass), Wlosok (piano), Stephen Wohlrab (guitar) and Tyler Kittle (tenor sax), and with special guest Marian Sevcik from Slovakia (drums).

Tickets for this event are $10 for the general public; $5 for WCU faculty, staff and students.

Sevcik also will conduct a rhythm section masterclass in the recital hall of the Coulter Building at 1:25 p.m. Monday, April 29, also open to the public and free of charge.

McCaslin grew up in Santa Cruz, Calif., inspired by his pianist/vibraphonist father, taking up the tenor saxophone at age 12. After performing in California and in Boston several years, he moved to New York City in 1991 and built his traditional jazz career with the groups Steps Ahead, Ken Schaphorst’s big band, and the Maria Schneider Orchestra, where his performance on the album “Concert In The Garden” received a Grammy nomination for “Best Jazz Instrumental Solo” in 2004.

Taking a more innovative direction, he performed with saxophonist Dave Binney, the pianoless quartet Lan Xang, and the Dave Douglas Quintet. Now composing as well as performing on solo albums featuring hints of Latin American elements within jazz frameworks, McCaslin has most recently released the album “In Pursuit.”

Sevcik’s performing and recording credentials feature participation in premier European jazz ensembles, both small group and big band, as well as collaborations on folk music projects with well-known Slovakian born artist Ida Kelarova and her band Jazz Famelija. He has performed at jazz festivals in Austria, Germany, Sweden, Great Britain, France, Holland, Spain, Slovakia and the Czech Republic as well as several of Leroy Lowe’s workshops and Juraj Bartos’ Hot House projects. In 2008, he received the “Jazzman of the Year” award, presented to him by the Music Fund of Slovakia.

“I’ve enjoyed organizing and hosting this event since I first arrived at WCU more than 12 years ago,” Wlosok said of the Jazz Festival. “Each year we invite at least one world-class jazz performer/composer to perform with our students. The significance of this experience for WCU students’ future development is essential to their growth, both as future musicians and educators.”

Tickets for the Saturday evening concert can be purchased at the Bardo Arts Center box office by calling 828-227-2479 or online at or For more general information, contact Pavel Wlosok at 828-227-3261.

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