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Jazz Ensemble features influential alumni to end annual jazz fest

The Ohio State Jazz ensemble performs. Courtesy of Vince Gilotti.

To wrap up the 41st Annual Jazz Festival at Ohio State this Sunday, the jazz ensemble will be featuring Ladd McIntosh, a highly accomplished jazz composer and Ohio State alumnus.

McIntosh attended the first collegiate jazz competition in 1967 where he brought a band full of members from Ohio State and surrounding colleges such as Capital University and . The band won first place, and McIntosh received honors for best composer —all before Ohio State even had a jazz department.

“Because of his efforts, because of all the recognition he got — the press, awards — all with the Ohio State University name associated with it, we created a jazz program,” Kristopher Keith, director of the jazz ensemble, said.

McIntosh has been actively composing jazz music since the mid-60s, and has scores featured in movies such as “The Lion King” and “A League of Their Own.” McIntosh will be directing the ensemble Sunday.

“[The songs featured] are all…songs that he has composed for jazz bands,” Tiana Ninic said. “One of which he specifically wrote for us.”

Tiana Ninic, a third-year in music education, plays trombone for the ensemble. Learning to play McIntosh’s music has been a bit of a challenge, but a welcome one.

“[The songs] are definitely not easy,” Ninic said. “A lot of them are really fast… [and some have] lots of rhythm, and stuff that you don’t just pick up. It took a bit of practice but we’re starting to get it.”

The concert will be featuring 14 of McIntosh’s songs, which he handpicked. The concert will be roughly two hours long and will include Keith himself on flute, as well as three other guest musicians: Wes Orr, Byron Rooker and Hal Rosenfeld.  

Orr co-founded what is now the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, and has played lead trumpet since the group’s inception. Another musician in the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, Rooker has been a part of the group since its founding in 1973, playing a variety of instruments such as clarinet, jazz saxophone and guitar.  

Percussionist, composer, arranger and orchestrator Rosenfeld also will take part in the performance. His work can be heard in more than 50 TV shows, video games and movies, and has worked on projects with notable artists such as Elton John, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Justin Hurwitz.

The Jazz Festival officially kicked off Wednesday and will continue through Sunday. The McIntosh concert will take place in the Weigel Auditorium at 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.  

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