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Feeling Bluesy? Check out Macomb Jazz Festival

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MACOMB --

As notes of jazz waft through Chandler Park in the coming days, the artists traveling to Macomb to perform are as varied as their musical styles and histories.

The seventh annual Al Sears Jazz Festival runs Friday through Sept. 14, with a full day of music in Chandler Park on Saturday.

Events kick off with Artists in Residence Day on Friday, giving Western Illinois University and high school students a chance to interact with the artists visiting for the festival. Then at 5 p.m., jazz combos will perform for diners at several local restaurants.

A Bureau of Cultural Affairs Jazz Concert, featuring the Freddy Cole Quartet, will then be held at WIU's College of Fine Arts and Communication Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. Admission to the concert is $15.

Cole is the brother of performer Nat King Cole.

Events on Saturday begin at noon in Chandler Park, the same time the Gazebo Arts Festival kicks off. Performers are scheduled to take the stage each hour until midnight and include a variety of groups from Western Illinois University joined by the St. Louis Rivermen and the Dave Hoffman Quintet with vocalist Semenya McCord.

A Galesburg native and middle-school teacher, McCord teaches general music and the choirs.

She moved back to the area after living in the Boston area for 30 years. She said she travels back two or three times each year to perform with musicians she worked with previously.

“I've been bringing a few of them here to Galesburg for my own self-productions at the Orpheum Theatre, at Knox College and at Monmouth College, as well as in the Quad Cities at the River Music Experience Museum," she said.

McCord's material takes jazz back to its roots and includes spirituals, blues and gospel.

“It's all there," she said, “whenever people are communicating through rhythm and melody, not only telling stories that everyone can appreciate, but also creating new stories that cause us to think, to feel and find value in our diversity."

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