Denis DiBlasio

SMSU Jazz to join Minneota for concert

The Southwest Minnesota State University jazz ensemble, under the direction of Dr. John Ginocchio, will join the Minneota jazz bands for a concert on March 25 at the Minneota High School.

The concert will begin at 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Dr. Ginocchio and guest artist and clinician Denis DiBlasio will hold a clinic on March 25 for the 13 Minneota Jr. High jazz band members from 12:30-1:15 p.m., followed by a clinic with the 15 Sr. High jazz band members from 1:15-2:15 p.m. Both clinics are free to the Minneota students.

“This is a great opportunity, not only for the students, but for the community as well,” said Minneota Band Director John Voit about the upcoming concert.

“It is rare to bring this caliber of talent to a small community.” Dr. Ginocchio contacted Voit with the idea of collaborating the jazz bands for a concert.

“It is a way for SMSU to reach out to area schools,” Voit said. The SMSU jazz band will collaborate with the Marshall High School jazz bands on March 26.

The concert and clinic are funded in part by a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council.

DiBlasio, a professional baritone saxophone and flute player, as well as a composer, has had several scores published. He has also had several books published on jazz improvisation and scat-singing.

DiBlasio is currently Director of the Jazz Department and conducts the Jazz Lab Band at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ.

“Dr. Ginocchio was solely responsible for getting Denis DiBlasio as a guest artist and clinician,” said Voit. “Mr. DiBlasio is a highly sought after as a clinician. Dr. Ginocchio brings in a guest artist to SMSU at least once a year.”

DiBlasio has taught and performed all over the United States as a clinician for the Yamaha Music Corp. His emphasis on “education as entertainment” has taken him to Canada, Mexico, Thailand, Italy, Luxemburg, Prague, Spain, France, Switzerland, Denmark and Japan. DiBlasio’s unique combination of positive motivation and witty sense of humor ensures an atmosphere where “making music is fun” and students are encouraged by his message that making a mistake is valid, as long as you learn something from the attempt.

Minneota had a jazz band in place when Voit began teaching there in 1991.

“I believe that the original jazz band began in the late 1960s by former director Richard Novotny,” said Voit. “Later, I was able to add a junior high jazz band to the program.”

Voit explained that a jazz band has fewer instruments, less variety of tone colors, and some amplified instruments than a traditional band.

“A traditional jazz band makes use of saxophones, trombones, trumpets and what is referred to as a rhythm section, which includes a drum set, piano, bass guitar and electric guitar,” he said.

“These instruments, though, tend to be brighter in tone color than the concert band instruments not used.” March is labeled “Music in our Schools Month” by the Minnesota Music Education Association.

When asked if the students are excited for the clinic and concert, Voit responded; “Yes, and perhaps a little nervous … and so is the director.”

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