Friday, February 2, 2024

The Montana State University Billings Jazz and Commercial Ensembles are focused on authentically learning multiple styles of Jazz and Commercial music in order for the student to approach future playing and teaching situations with confidence and knowledge. Our ensembles sincerely enjoy sharing the love of music and broadening our own minds as well as those in the community, to become more artistically and culturally aware.


All college, high school, and junior high jazz ensembles in the state are cordially invited to the MSU Billings Jazz Festival, which will take place on Friday, February 2, 2024, at MSU Billings.  All sizes of ensembles are invited to attend, including big bands, combos, modern bands, vocal jazz, and any other size or instrumentation of Jazz or Commercial ensemble. In addition to adjudication, highly experienced clinicians will also provide improvisation, instrumental, and music production clinics. This festival is non-competitive and focused on education and nurturing the love of music. Top Soloists of the festival will be awarded at the evening concert. There are no adjudication fees required for this festival.

Darrell Green, 2024 guest artist

Darrell Green, 2024 guest artist

Adam Benjamin, 2024 guest artist

Adam Benjamin, 2024 guest artist

Jenna McLean, 2024 guest artist

Jenna McLean, 2024 guest artist

Dante Pascuzzom, 2024 guest artist

Dante Pascuzzo, 2024 guest artist

Guest Artists & Adjudicators

  • Darrell Green, percussionist and educator.
    • Darrell Green has become a master drummer and prolific sideman in his two-decade career, sharing stages with leading jazz artists; from Blue Note vibraphonist Stefon Harris to saxophonist Red Holloway. Though jazz is his primary focus, Green is conversant in every genre from straight-ahead jazz to Latin and West African music. As a soloist, Green is known for his effortless, masterful technique and
      captivating rhythms that bring the music to life, taking audiences on a spiritual journey. He is one of the most in-demand drummers in New York, Europe, and Japan.
  • Adam Benjamin, pianist, keyboardist, composer, and writer.
    • Adam Benjamin, a founding member of Kneebody, has performed, collaborated, and toured with artists as varied as Jimmy Chamberlin Complex, So Percussion, Joshua Redman, and Beck, and has contributed to many film scores, including co-writing the score to John Krasinski's 2009 adaptation of David Foster Wallace's "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men."
  • Jenna McLean, modern jazz vocalist and songwriter. 
    • Jenna was a semi-finalist in the 2023 American Traditions Vocal Competition, the 2019 winner of the Downbeat Student Music Awards Graduate Vocal Soloist Category, and a 2019 recent recipient of the Pathways to Jazz Grant. She has had the pleasure of performing alongside renowned musicians such as Joel Frahm, Pat Coil, Bobby McFerrin, Aubrey Logan, and the New York Voices, and also performs regularly with incredible Denver-based jazz musicians such as Annie Booth, Ben Markley, Eric Gunnison, Tom Amend, Dawn Clement, and others. 
  • Dante Pascuzzo, bassist and songwriter. 
    • In 2010 Dante released his first solo album entitled “La La” featuring Adam Benjamin on Rhodes Keyboard and Nate Wood on drums. In 2012 he co-wrote the song “Todo Lo Que Tengo” and played bass on the title track of the band Quetzal’s Grammy-winning album “Imaginaries”. Recently Dante has been playing and recording with producer/trumpeter Josef Leimberg, writing and playing with the rock band Rough Church, performing the surf rock/flamenco band The Blue Agave led by guitarist Andy Abad, working on rapper GNL Zamba’s next release, and also working on music for his next record.

Concert Tickets

The Jazz Festival Concert featuring the MSUB Jazz Band and the guest artist will take place at the MSUB Petro Theatre from 7-9 p.m. on Friday, February 2, 2024 (doors open at 6:30 p.m.). Tickets to attend the performance are only $15 and can be purchased at this link. FREE Admission with a valid MSUB ID at the door. If you need help purchasing tickets, please call the Music Department Office at 406-657-2350.

MSU Billings’ past jazz festivals have been very successful with guest artists such as Alex Iles, Bob BowmanBrennan Baglio, Wayne BergeronKatisse Buckingham, Maynard Ferguson, Bill Watrous, Doc Cheatum, George Shearing, Bobby Shew, Nick Mancini, Denis DiBlasio, Eric Richards, Kelly Berdahl, Matt Otto, Darrell Green, Dontae Winslow, Camille Thurman, and Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca. Please join us in making this another educational tradition and a musical mainstay in Montana.


MSUB jazz band rehearsing Fall 2017

Wayne Bergeron performing with student musicians at the 2016 MSUB Jazz Festival

Jazz band
Jazz band

For more information please contact John Roberts.