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University of Minnesota, Morris Jazz Festival

40th Annual UMM Jazz Festival

Friday & Saturday April 6 & 7, 2018

For the 2018 University of Minnesota, Morris Jazz Fest we are excited to present an evening concert that combines the rich traditions of jazz with the current influences of pop music and modern jazz.

We will be featuring the amazing jazz vocalist and pianist Kate Skinner on a variety of jazz/pop arrangements for big band as well as a world-first premier that was commissioned for the UMM Jazz Ensemble and composed by the talented trombonist/composer JC Sanford.

Performances by

Kate Skinner (piano/voice)
JC Sanford (trombone/composer)
Josh Skinner (bass)
Pete James Johnson (drums)
UMM Jazz Ensemble
West Central All-Stars Big Band (Friday, April 6th)
UMM Alumni Jazzers Big Band (Saturday, April 7th)

Features for 2018

  • Outstanding Soloist Awards - Multiple "outstanding soloists" will be selected to perform during the evening concert.
  • Clinics for Each Instrument Section - Afternoon breakout-session style masterclasses will offer something for each instrument/section (saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and rhythm section)
  • Saturday Evening Jam Session - Guest Artists and UMM students will host an after-hours jam session on Friday evening. Anyone is welcome to play!
  • "Meet the Guest Artist" Question and Answer Session - Come meet all of our guest artists in an informal Q&A session.

Guest Artists/Clinicians

Kate Skinner

kskinnerJazz pianist and vocalist Kate Skinner maintains an active performing, composing and teaching career in the western United States. A native of Ogden, Utah, Skinner pulls influences from the bluegrass and classical roots of her childhood into both her songwriting and performing as a jazz musician. In her teenage and college years, Kate delved into R&B, funk, and hip hop, genres that also continually find their way into her musical explorations helping to create her own unique voice. Part of this unique voice is an obsession with alternative keyboard instruments and a study of the great keyboardists of jazz, rock and funk.

As a pianist, Skinner is in demand in a variety of performance styles and has performed with the Downbeat-award-winning jazz band from the University of Northern Colorado, Jazz Lab Band I among many other established large and small jazz ensembles. Her work as a vocalist has seen much success among a wide audience of listeners across genres. Kate’s compositions and playing have won multiple awards, including a Downbeat award for Outstanding Vocal Performance and a Jazz Education Network award for composition.

2014 saw the release of two new albums that Kate was highly involved in, one of which is a straight-ahead jazz quartet called Divergent, featuring her writing and performing. The second is Born to Wander, a bass-guitar-voice trio with Erik Applegate and Steve Kovalcheck. The group is founded in jazz and explores interpreting classic folk and rock tunes along with jazz standards. Kate believes that the pursuit of honest and creative projects is the lifeblood of any artist and she strives to continually push herself and widen her scope to new influences and excitements.

Skinner holds M.M. and D.A. degrees in Jazz Studies from the University of Northern Colorado and currently serves as Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano at University of Idaho.

JC Sanford


After 16 years in New York City, Minnesota native and trombonist/composer JC Sanford recently relocated to his home state. A long time student of the legendary Bob Brookmeyer, Sanford has performed as a trombonist along side the likes of Danilo Pérez, Matt Wilson, Bill Stewart, and Donny McCaslin. A sought-after conductor of new large ensemble music in NYC, he conducts the twice-Grammy-nominated John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, the Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble, and the Alice Coltrane Orchestra featuring Ravi Coltrane and Jack DeJohnette. His 2014 JC Sanford Orchestra album Views from the Inside won international acclaim and was awarded the prestigious Aaron Copland Fund for Recording. His compositions and arrangements ha ve been performed by artists such as Dave Liebman, John Abercrombie, Lew Soloff, and Ingrid Jensen. He was recently recognized as a "Rising Star" trombonist, arranger, and big band in DownBeat Magazine's 2017 Critic's Poll. Since returning to Minnesota, he has performed with stalwarts of the Twin Cities jazz scene such as Chris and JT Bates, Dave Seru, Babatunde Lea, Brandon Wozniak, and Laura Caviani, in addition to his own quartet and trio.


Josh Skinner


Josh Skinner holds a doctor of arts from the University of Northern Colorado and maintains an active career as a performer and educator. Fluent in both jazz and classical idioms, Skinner has frequently traveled throughout North America and Europe as a performer, clinician and adjudicator working with both classical and jazz soloists and ensembles. Recently Skinner had his international recital debut at the European Bass Congress in Prague. He also currently serves as assistant professor of bass at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

Pete James Johnson


Pete Johnson serves as director of Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combos and applied drumset at College of St. Benedict/St. John's University. In addition, he maintains a busy performing schedule around the United States and the world.

Pete has performed and toured with the Grammy-winning Bob Mintzer Big Band, Ambrose Akinmusire, Bob Reynolds, Alan Pasqua, Darek Oles, Carl Saunders, Otmaro Ruiz, Bob Sheppard, Russ Ferrante, Maple & Beech and more. In addition, Pete has worked as a session drummer for Capitol Records and is on over 50 albums of jazz and pop artists. In addition to his time at CSB/SJU, Pete maintains a busy touring schedule with Twin Cities groups and has toured North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

In 2015 Pete received his masters of music in jazz studies at the University of Southern California, where he studied with Peter Erskine, Ndugu Chancler, Aaron Serfaty, and Bill Platt. In 2009 he received a bachelor of arts in music at Minnesota State University, where he studied with Allen Carter.