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Renowned jazz drummer Ali Jackson provides clinic for Whitworth, Spokane-area students

October 1, 2009
This fall, Ali Jackson, best known in the jazz world as a drummer for Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, conducted a jazz music workshop for Whitworth and other Spokane-area college and high school students.

Students from Whitworth, Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University and several local high schools attended the free clinic, which was held Sept. 16 in the music building at Whitworth.

Dan Keberle, professor of music and director of the award-winning Whitworth Jazz Ensemble, described the clinic as educational, inspiring, motivating and entertaining.

“It's often very inspiring for students when they learn first-hand about the educational and musical background of a world-class jazz musician," Keberle says. "They find parallels between the musician's life and their own, and they're motivated to work hard to achieve their goals."

One of Whitworth’s student jazz combos performed a song for Jackson, who gave them suggestions for making the piece more exciting and interesting, Keberle says. He says the students had to be courageous to perform in front of such a jazz great and to be critiqued in front of their peers, and he says that they both played and presented Whitworth’s music program very well.

Other prominent jazz musicians who have come to Whitworth in recent years include Kenny Garret, Eric Reed, Nicholas Payton, Steve Turre, Byron Stripling and Bob Mintzer. In November, legendary jazz master Lee Konitz will perform with the Jazz Ensemble at the Fox Theatre, in downtown Spokane. The concert will be part of a weekend of events celebrating the 20th anniversary of Whitworth's highly-acclaimed jazz program.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Dan Keberle, director of the Whitworth Jazz Ensemble and professor of music, (509) 777- 4582

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or