School of the Arts

Jazz X-Press: With a Little Help from Our Friends

Chico State Jazz X-Press Joined by Alumni for 'With a Little Help from Our Friends' Concert

Chico State Jazz X-Press at the Telluride Jazz Festival
CSU, Chico Jazz X-Press at the 2008 Telluride Jazz Festival

CSU, Chico’s Department of Music and Theatre presents Jazz X-Press’ spring semester concert, With a Little Help from Our Friends. The concert will take place Saturday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Harlen Adams Theatre. Tickets are available at the University Box Office, 530-898-6333.

Jazz X-Press typically has a guest artist or two perform at their concerts. For this semester’s concert, Allan Burwell, a Department of Music and Theatre alumni, approached CSU, Chico band program director Rocky Winslow with the idea to feature alumni as the guest artists in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of Jazz X-Press’s performance at the prestigious Telluride Jazz Festival.

“Call it a family reunion,” Winslow said.

Besides Burwell, there are approximately 20 alumni joining Jazz X-Press for With a Little Help from Our Friends. The list includes Robby Delgado, Ayako Nakamura, Chris Navarette and many others, Winslow said.

Rocky Winslow holding instrument
Director Rocky Winslow

Many of the featured alumni are now elementary, junior high and high school band directors. Included in this list is Tanner Johns, band director at Marsh Junior High here in Chico.

“You will see the future of our music in this band,” Winslow said. “As music directors and instructors Chico State alumni dominate the Nor Cal map.

The concert will include original songs written by students and alumni alike.

With ensemble members writing original songs for this concert, not only are they displaying their compositional skills, but they will get the chance to display the talents of their fellow members by writing specifically for this band, Winslow noted. 

“They know who plays and how they play and then feature what they do,” Winslow said.

Compositions will include a bossa nova work by guitar player Timothy Knight; a modern jazz piece by trumpet player Aman Cowell; a composition from early jazz history that has been transcribed by bass player Aaron Linker; and an arrangement for big band that alumni Philip Drange did of “For You,” a composition his brother wrote before passing away.

 Aman Cowell playing trumpet
Trumpet player Aman Cowell

“There’s just something about hearing what the students have created,” Winslow said. “I think about it, and I get goosebumps.”

Tickets, at $15 adults, $13 seniors, and $6 students and youth, are available to purchase at CSU, Chico’s University Box Office, 530-898-6333, online at, or at the door.

Harlen Adams Theatre is located in the Performing Arts Center, room 144, on CSU, Chico’s campus. For those who need special seating accommodations, please call the box office for arrangements, 530-898-6333. More information is available online at the School of the Arts’ website and Facebook page.


Story by Shelby Casey, Publicity Assistant, School of the Arts