Back to All Events

Carolina Jazz Festival, Chapel Hill, NC

Carolina Jazz Festival

Founded in 1977, the Carolina Jazz Festival promotes a broad range of programming spanning performance, education, and scholarship. This year’s 39th annual festival features In addition to students and faculty from the UNC Jazz Studies program (UNC Jazz Combos, UNC Jazz Combos, Charanga Carolina) alongside performances by The Count Basie Orchestra with Dianne Schurr and the New York Voices and Artists-in-Residence Mark Whitfield (guitar) & Nat Reeves (bass). For additional information about the Carolina Jazz Festival, contact Festival Director Jim Ketch(

We invite you to attend and enjoy the events of the 39th Carolina Jazz Festival. Our schedule includes many free events. For those events that do require tickets, please note that tickets are available at the Memorial Hall Box Office(919-843-3333) or at the door in advance of the concert. For information beyond what is listed please contact Jim Ketch at or919-962-7560.

Schedule of Events

Wednesday, February 17

1:25-2:15 pm — Open Rehearsal with the UNC Jazz Band with Mark Whitfield, guitar, and Nat Reeves, bass. Kenan Music Building, Rehearsal Hall. Free and open to the public.

4:00-6:00 pm — UNC Jazz Combos featuring Artists-in-Residence Rodney Whitaker, bass and Etienne Charles, trumpet. Kenan Music Building, Rehearsal Hall. Free and open to the public.

Thursday, February 18

11:00 am-12:15 pm — Open Classroom: Jazz Improvisation II with Dr. Stephen Anderson. Kenan Music Building, Rehearsal Hall. Free and open to the public.

2:00-3:30 pm Masterclasses with Mark Whitfield & Nat Reeves. Kenan Music Building, rooms TBA. Free and open to the public.

7:30 pm — Concert: UNC Faculty Jazz Ensemble and Charango Carolina with Mark Whitfield, guitar and Nat Reeves, bass. Kenan Music Building, Rehearsal Hall. Free and open to the public.

Friday, February 19

1:25-2:15 pm — Open Rehearsal: UNC Jazz Band with Mark Whitfield, guitar and Nat Reeves, bass. Kenan Music Building, Rehearsal Hall. Free and open to the public.

8:00 pm — Concert: UNC Jazz Band with Mark Whitfield, guitar and Nat Reeves, bass. Kenan Music Building, Rehearsal Hall. Scholarship Benefit Concert, general admission tickets $10 ($5 students and UNC faculty/staff).

10:30pm TENTATIVE. Workshop featuring Brian Blade and the Fellowship

Band, Room 1201 Kenan Music Building. Free. This event has yet to be confirmed by Brian Blade.

Saturday, February 20

9:00 am-5:30 pm — NC Regional Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Festival. Offered in conjunction with Jazz at Lincoln Center. Jazz Band Performances: Kenan Music Building, Rehearsal Hall. Jazz Combo Performances: Hill Hall, Room 107.

8:00 pm —  Count Basie Orchestra, with guests Dianne Schurr and the New York Voices. Memorial Hall. Tickets and Information or (919) 843-3333.

Pharez Whitted (Guest Clinician, EE Jazz Festival)

Practically everyone in the house played an instrument and that raw talent surely wouldn’t be wasted on Pharez Whitted either. At the age of nine he found a trumpet in the closet and asked his brother to show him how to play a C major scale, and it was all over – he was hooked. It wasn’t just that his father (Thomas Whitted Sr.) played drums with Freddie Hubbard and Wes Montgomery, or that his mother (Virtue Whitted) sang and played the bass, it was the deeply rooted love he had for the music and his close ties with it.

If you asked Pharez what inspires his music, he’d say that the world needs hope and beauty and his compositions were created for that purpose. His music is for the people, to lift them up and inspire beautiful thoughts and a harmonious vibe throughout the universe. One love, one universal voice. That voice is heard loud and clear in his newest release, ‘The Tree Of Life’.  In this album he wanted people to feel the music he performs more than just to think about it from a musical standpoint.  One of his biggest goals is to perform music that is accessible to everyday people but still speaks to life and creativity while elevating their mind and spirit to dream and visualize possibilities that they never imagined.  That is a lofty goal, but he has hit that mark and beyond.

What Pharez has prided himself on are the members of the band in his current project ‘The Tree of Life’ whom he says are all extremely creative in their own right. They have a very unique voice on their respective instruments, and a beautiful spirit, which is what drew him to them in the first place.  The members in his new band are Jonathan Wood on bass, Edwin Bayard on tenor sax, Lovell Bradford on piano and keys, and Greg Artry on drums and percussion.  You can find out more about the band and the music by visiting the Tree Of Life page.

Pharez is originally from Indianapolis, Indiana and attended DePauw University and Indiana University with a focus on music. He has participated in several television events including The Billboard Music Awards and The Arsenio Hall Show. He was an artist on MoJazz, Motown’s Jazz label and worked with a variety of artists including George Duke, Elvin Jones, Slide, Hampton, Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, David Baker, Ramsey Lewis, Lou Rawls,  Bobby Broom, John Mellencamp and El Debarge.  He also had two albums on the jazz charts in the top 10 (“Transient Journey 2010 “and “For the People” 2012).

In addition to his work as a musician, Pharez is a producer, composer, arranger and educator. He has taught Jazz Trumpet, Jazz Improvisation, Jazz History and has directed jazz ensembles at various Universities and High Schools throughout the country. Presently he serves as the Director of Jazz Studies at Chicago State University and is part of the faculty at the Rivinia’s prestigious Jazz Scholar Program in Chicago.