After a two-year break during the pandemic, the 18th and Vine Jazz Festival is returning to the Gem Theater and American Jazz Museum in Kansas City’s 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District.

The jazz festival is an annual three-day event for middle school and high school jazz ensembles, scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 21 through April 23.

Although the festival started 20 years ago, this will be the 18th year after the two-year break due to the pandemic.

This year, more than 900 students representing 43 middle and high schools from Kansas and Missouri will perform in non-competitive jazz ensembles for a panel of judges, receiving ratings and feedback. Following their performance, each band spends 30 minutes in a clinic with a professional jazz musician. 

“After a two-year break, we are delighted that the 18th and Vine Jazz Festival is once again taking place,” said Clarence Smith, festival director. “The festival provides a rare opportunity for band directors and students to perform on the legendary Gem Theater stage–a location that is steeped in jazz history. Many of the directors and students visit the American Jazz Museum and eat barbecue either before or after participating in the festival, and we know that the 18th and Vine Jazz Festival has introduced hundreds of young musicians to all that Kansas City’s Historic Jazz District has to offer.”

The festival is a collaboration between the American Jazz Museum and Metropolitan Community College—Penn Valley Campus.

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