Univ. of Idaho Announces John Clayton as Artistic Director for Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival


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MOSCOW, Idaho - The University of Idaho has named nationally renowned jazz musician John Clayton as artistic director of its Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival. His appointment begins July 2.

A six-time Grammy-nominated bassist, composer, arranger and conductor, Clayton will be responsible for forming relationships with artists and initiating the dialogue for artist participation in jazz festival events. He also is tasked with shaping and enhancing the concerts, student competitions, clinics, workshops, Jazz in the Schools and Outstanding Young Artist Concerts. He will interact with the International Jazz Collection; engage with the National Advisory Board; fundraise; and develop opportunities for collaboration with the Lionel Hampton School of Music.

“It is an honor and pleasure to have John take on this role with the jazz festival," said University of Idaho Provost and Executive Vice President Doug Baker. “His unique expertise in jazz, along with his large list of national and international contacts, will impact the musical performance and education our jazz festival is known for around the world. This festival merits his level of talent."

No stranger to the University of Idaho, Clayton has consistently performed at the jazz festival for the last ten years.

“Having been a fan of Lionel Hampton's and participating in his festival, I have grown to understand the impact that it has on the lives of young artists and jazz supporters. It is an honor for me to be in this position. For this music, for its artists and for Hamp's contributions and his ongoing spirit, I will do all that I can to continue this legacy of jazz education while moving forward," said Clayton.

Clayton began focusing on his bass talents at age 16, when he studied with famed bassist, Ray Brown. Over his exemplary career, he has written and arranged music for Diana Krall, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston, Milt Jackson, Nancy Wilson, Quincy Jones, George Benson, Regina Carter, Sara Gazareck, Michael Buble, Paul Anka and many others. He performed as the bassist for Henry Mancini's television series, “The Mancini Generation"; toured with Monty Alexander and the Count Basie Orchestra; served as principal bass in the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra; and been commissioned by many ensembles around the globe. He was the artistic director for jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1998 to 2001. The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra - featuring Clayton, his brother, reed player Jeff Clayton, and drummer Jeff Hamilton - served as the resident jazz orchestra for the Los Angeles Philharmonic during that period.

Clayton's leadership skills are fine-tuned. Along with his L.A. Philharmonic association, he has served as artistic director of the Vail Jazz Workshop and musical director of several jazz festivals, including the Sarasota Jazz Festival and the Santa Fe Jazz Party. For more information about Clayton, visit www.johnclaytonjazz.com.

“I think John Clayton is the best possible successor to the strong leadership developed by Lionel Hampton and Doc Skinner. It also continues a distinguished line of jazz artists, from Lionel Hampton to Ray Brown, and now, John Clayton, who have contributed their talents in music and business to the betterment of the jazz festival," said Larry Grimes, chairman of the International Jazz Festival Advisory Board.

Joining Clayton in heading up the festival will be Cami McClure, current director of conference services and community programs at the University of Idaho. She will serve as interim executive director and will handle the festival's day-to-day business affairs. Clayton and McClure will replace Lynn J. “Doc" Skinner, who served as executive director of the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival for 35 years. Skinner officially retires June 30, but will continue to serve as a part-time consultant this year. The university plans to dedicate the 2007 jazz festival as a celebration of Skinner's four decades of service to the community, jazz and the arts.

“It is such a great opportunity for the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival to have John involved as artistic director. He is a dear friend and I will be supporting in any way possible. The future of the festival is in good hands," said Skinner.

“Having Doc Skinner's advice and guidance will be vital to directing John and me as we continue to realize Lionel Hampton's dream - investing in future generations to perpetuate jazz as an art form," said McClure.

A 40-year tradition at the University of Idaho, the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival attracts thousands of college, high school, junior high and elementary school students from all over the U.S. and Canada to the university's Moscow campus to meet some of the world's greatest jazz performers. Students present both vocal and instrumental adjudicated performances, and attend concerts and workshops given by the jazz artists.

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