About the Festival

The largest event of its kind in the nation, the UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival brings together internationally recognized artists, jazz lovers, award-winning clinicians, and over 250 college, high school, and middle school big bands, combos, and jazz vocal groups. Each year, over 8,000 participants enjoy the main stage concerts, after-hours sessions, daytime performances, and the many educational workshop sessions.

The Festival is a non-competitive educational and cultural facet of the UNC Jazz Studies Program that furthers the University of Northern Colorado’s mission of lifelong learning and commitment to service. The 2018 UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival, now celebrating its 48th year, will welcome elementary school, middle school, high school, and college jazz ensembles from throughout the United States. In 2017, participating schools traveled from Washington, Texas, Maryland, Nevada, Iowa, Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, North Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Open to all levels from elementary school through college/university and semi-professional groups, the festival hosts a wide array of ensembles in a non-competitive environment. Groups may register in four categories: big bands, combos, jazz vocal groups, and vocal soloists. All groups receive recorded comments and a feedback clinic from some of our 40 artist/clinicians (college big bands receive recorded comments only). Each day, several educational workshops on topics ranging from improvisation and arranging to vocal and instrumental techniques are offered by the artist/clinicians and our main stage artists.

Main Stage Artists

The UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival continues a tradition of featuring some of the most prominent names in jazz today. An important goal of the festival is to bring artists to Colorado that are rarely or never heard in the region: 2017 marked NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan's festival debut, and in 2014 the Wayne Shorter Quartet and the Swingle Singers appeared at the festival for the first time ever. The appearance by the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra in 2007 was the group’s debut in the State of Colorado. Likewise, the performance by the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra in 2004 was the group’s first appearance in Colorado in over 15 years, and the 2006 festival featured the Colorado debut of the Maria Schneider Orchestra.

Other past artists at the UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival include Chick Corea, The New York Voices, the Mingus Big Band, Ahmad Jamal, The Real Group, Take 6, Stefon Harris & Blackout, Slide Hampton, Cedar Walton, Bob Mintzer, Gary Burton, Benny Golson, John Abercrombie, Vince Mendoza, Rufus Reid, Louie Bellson, Art Blakey, Michael Brecker, Dave Brubeck, Bobby McFerrin, McCoy Tyner, Kurt Elling, Nicholas Payton, Kenny Werner, Jim McNeely, and Kenny Garrett to name a few. For more information on this year’s featured artists, please visit the Featured Artists page.

What Do School Groups Receive?

  • A 30-minute performance slot in one of five venues (total time including getting on/off stage, applause, etc.); vocal soloists have 15 minutes
  • A 30-minute slot in a warm-up room
  • Audio taped comments from clinician(s)
  • A Feedback clinic with one of the clinicians. Big bands will move to a separate clinic room; vocal groups, vocal soloists, and combos may elect to leave time in their 30-minute slot (15 min. for vocal soloists) for feedback (college/university groups do not receive feedback clinics)
  • An optional confidential rating assigned by the clinicians
  • Free entry to the educational clinics and to the after hours jazz sessions
  • A well equipped performance venue with high-quality backline (piano, bass amp, guitar amp, drum set, cymbals, and vibes), music stands/platforms, and a professional sound system with engineer
  • Pianos and drum sets that are tuned each day
  • Warm-up and feedback clinic rooms that are equipped with a piano, bass and guitar amps, drum set, cymbals, and music stands


Each year, we hire some of the most respected, experienced, and talented clinicians from across the United States. We select over 40 artists/clinicians specifically based on their ability to provide valuable guidance to students and educators and their ability to perform and demonstrate their knowledge at the highest professional levels.

Group Performances

School groups perform between the hours of 8:00 am - 6:00 pm each day in seven venues conveniently located in downtown Greeley, Colorado. The Union Colony Civic Center, Greeley Recreation Center, and Greeley Senior Center are located at 701 10th Avenue, adjacent to one another in the same city block. The Doubletree Hotel is located across the street from the Union Colony Civic Center at 919 7th St. The Clarion Hotel and Conference Center is just two blocks away at 701 8th Street. Moxi Theater is located at 802 9th Street, Suite 200, on the southwest corner of 8th Avenue and 9th Street. Please see the Schedules page or the Register page for more information, and the Information for Participants page for the School Performance Schedule.


Jamey Aebersold
UNC Jazz Press UNC Jazz City of Greeley Littler