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Origins of the Eddie Durham Jazz Celebration

The Hill Country Jazz Festival, in its 30th year, was founded by Keith Winking at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas in 1989. In 2004, the Eddie Durham Celebration was added as a featured event/concert during the Hill Country Jazz Festival weekend. In 2009, NEA Jazz Master Dan Morgenstern made his first presentation at Texas State University and returned annually as a presenter during the Eddie Durham Celebration.

Hill Country Jazz Fest - Past Guest Artists

Bob Mintzer-sax/composer
Marcus Printup - trumpet
Randy Brecker-trumpet
Pete Christlieb-sax
Ed Shaughnessy -Drums
Eric Marienthal-sax
Clark Terry - trumpet
Frank Wess-saxophone
Bill Watrous - Trombone
Frank Foster - Sax/composer
Dick Oatts  -Sax
Marvin Stamm - trumpet
Paul McKee - Trombone
Willie Thomas - trumpet
Al Grey - trombone
Carmen Bradford -voice
Bobby Shew - trumpet
Loren Schoenberg-sax and Executive Director of The Jazz Museum in Harlem
Ernie Watts - sax
Brian Lynch - trumpet
Andre Hayward- trombone (2003 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trombone Competition Winner)
Fr. George Wiskirchen - Jazz Education Pioneer/legend
Ted Nash - saxophone
Michael Philip Mossman-trumpet/trombone/composer
David "Fathead" Newman - sax
 Rufus Reid - bass
Wayne Bergeron - Trumpet
John Fedchock - Trombone/composer

The City of San Marcos Arts Commission promotes tourism to San Marcos, Texas and enriches our city and its diverse cultural heritage by supporting works of artistic excellence, advancing arts education and strengthening the arts in the community. The Arts Commission has supported the Hill Country Jazz Festival / Eddie Durham Celebration in the past through their arts grants program.

Eddie Durham Jazz Celebration - Past Guest Artists

Frank Wess – saxophone, flute (1922 – 2013)
Joe Wilder – trumpet (1922 – 2014)
 Rufus Reid – bassist 
 Doug Lawrence – saxophone 
 Joel Frahm – saxophonist 
Ralph Bowen-Saxophonist
Stanley Crouch - Writer
Conrad Herwig - Trombone
Michael Williams -Count Basie lead trumpeter
Marvin Stamm-Trumpet
Bobby Shew-Trumpet
Vincent Herring-saxophonist
James Morrison -multi-instrumentalist virtuoso from Australia.
U.S. Training and Doctrine Command Jazz Band – Fort Monroe, Virginia
Loren Schoenberg-scholar, saxophonist, pianist

Eddie Durham Jazz Celebration - NEA Featured Jazz Masters Artists

Frank Wess 2007

Joe Wilder 2008

Dan Morgenstern 2009 2010 2012 2011 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

Rufus Reid - Guggenheim Fellow 2008

Keith Winking's narrative on the early years:

I started the jazz festival my first year of teaching at Texas State in 1988-89.  I was hired as a part-time instructor teaching the one jazz class in the curriculum which was the jazz ensemble.   At the time, in addition to Texas State having only having one jazz band/class, very few middle or high schools in the area and really throughout the state taught jazz so I started the festival to in the hopes of building more interest in jazz both at all levels.  
    I had no idea how to start/run a festival, but luckily, I had studied with Rev George Wiskirchen at the University of Notre Dame who is considered one of the fathers (no pun intended) of jazz education. Through phone conversations, Fr George helped me start the festival and he also came down to judge and get it off the ground that first year. I thought the first festival would be successful if I was able to get 10 high school bands which we did. I sent letters (pre-email) to every band in the state and made many phone calls to schools/directors who had jazz bands most of whom I did not know.  Luckily, many of the bands from that first year came back for the second festival which helped attract other schools and keep the festival afloat.   
  My total jazz area budget the first year was $2300 and the festival would not have got off the ground without Fr. George and the other judges/guest artists coming for close to nothing as favors to me. Fr George was a clinician for the Selmer Company and he was able to get them to pay for his flight and he judged for free. In addition to Fr George, the other judges that first year were trombonist Paul McKee who was living in Austin at the time. and Joe Pusateri, an LA studio drummer who I had known since high school. In addition to judging, Paul and Joe both also played with the band as the featured artists. That first year, Fr presented a clinic for band directors, Paul did an improvisation clinic, and Joe did a rhythm sections clinic. At the time, there was a house on campus known as the "Hill House" which was not fancy to put it mildly but it was free for guests and I was able to house Fr George and Joe there.
   Because I was clueless as to what it took to run a festival, Fr George guided me through everything. I remember the day before that festival Fr George asking me about the judge’s sheets. I had not thought about that and really had no idea as to how to put together judge’s sheets and I started to panic. Fr. George, who had judged jazz festivals going back to 1960, typed up the comment sheets that first year which are basically still being used today.
  The festival helped build interest in jazz at Texas State and in my second year, we had enough students interested in playing in a jazz band and the curriculum increased from one to two bands. The band was much stronger that second year due to having recruited some friends of mine from the area who I had played with, like John Mills. We did not have a jazz major so John and others, came as Masters students studying composition, or like Steve Summer (current Tx State Faculty) who came back to finish undergraduate degrees. Having John in the band helped attract and recruit top high school talent. I was able to recruit my first two all-state jazz students after they heard John in the band at the jazz festival. This was before we even had a jazz major.  
     As the number of bands at Texas State increased as a result of the festival, I was able to convince the chairman that in order develop a jazz program we needed to offer/add courses in improvisation, jazz piano, jazz theory, jazz pedagogy etc. which we did and which led to our current degrees in jazz. Fr George helped with this and needs to be given credit for not only helping establish the jazz festival but also the jazz curriculum at Texas State.