Medford Jazz Festival Mission Statement
The Medford Jazz Festival is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating, fostering, sponsoring, and developing the understanding, taste and love of traditional jazz music as an art form through youth programs and an annual jazz festival.
Board of Directors
- Jim DeMont, President
- Kathy McCullough, 1st Vice President
- Ron Wallace, 2nd Vice President
- Mary Nutt, Treasurer
- Ruth Wooton, Secretary
- Pat Akery
- Linda Casey
- Butch Naumes
- MaryAnn Ramsden
- Cory TenBrink
- Ila Selene
- Tom Boruff
- Dennis Ramsden, Executive Director
History of the Medford Jazz Festival
The story, told and retold over the years, starts in 1988 with Larry Bernard (leader of Journeys End Jazz Band) returning from the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee bubbling with enthusiasm over this thing called Jazz Jubilee. Medford surely needed one of these, thought Larry, and with the help of his co-founders Jerry Lausmann, the late former Medford Mayor and the late Patti Bills, former Director of the Visitors and Convention Bureau, the enthusiasm spread.
The first Medford Jazz Jubilee, now called the Medford Jazz Festival, was held in October 1989 with great success and much to do about community, music, worldwide musicians and spreading the joy of the true American art-form, Dixieland music. Just eight bands appeared that first year and the festival has grown over time to include as many as 18 bands and additional youth-oriented programs.
For the 1990 festival the event added its first Youth Program which is, today, a main focus of the festival. Just 500 children participated in that first year's program and well over 15,000 students are now entertained and introduced to jazz every year during the festival. Two front-line bands are brought in early to perform all-student assemblies at over 30 area elementary schools and to conduct music student clinics at several middle schools.
Complementary to the in-school program, a select group from the Oregon Coast Lab Band (over 150 students from ages 11-18), perform each year at the festival. This student band contains remarkable young people with bandleaders and parents that are to be commended for the commitment they have all made to their program. The festival takes the Youth Program very seriously and annually makes contributions of programs or cash to the Medford Schools. In 2007, a membership structure was initiated to help perpetuate the Festival in these endeavors.
Dancing at the Medford Jazz Festival has always been popular, and in the last few years has really taken off. From the energetic, uninhibited steps of Jump-Jive to the classical, intimate Waltz, the Festival is the ultimate place to dance to live music for three straight days. Each venue features a dance floor and lots of room for watching. Our dedicated dancing site features dance and plenty of seating for spectators.
The Medford Jazz Festival is truly a musical event for all ages. Over the years we have stayed true to our Dixieland roots, but we have broadened our community and audience appeal by including Zydeco, Swing, Jump-Jive, Big Band and other music that is period-contemporary with the 1900 – 1960 jazz and post jazz era.
The Medford Jazz Festival has the full support of the community and our loyal fans. It is through the community support, continued attendance and great volunteer work that this festival continues to be successful.