Southeast Missouri State University’s Department of Music presents its “WOMEN IN JAZZ” Gala Festival Concert as a part of the Jazz Series Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall at Southeast’s River Campus, sponsored by Saint Francis Healthcare Systems.

The concert will feature jazz saxophonist, Sharel Cassity. Also featured will be Southeast’s Studio Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Lab Band under the direction of Dr. Joseph L. Jefferson. Audiences will be regaled with compositions and arrangements by all-women including Patty Darling, Lisa DeSpain, Sharel Cassity, Sara Jacovino and Ayn Inserto.

Saxophonist, Composer and Educator Sharel Cassity (pron. "Sha-Relle") is prominent on the New York and Chicago jazz scenes. Listed as "Rising Star Alto Saxophone" in Downbeat Magazine for the past 12 years, Sharel has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, The Colbert Show, is in the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, and is a recipient of the ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award.  Sharel has worked with Multi-Grammy Award-winning artist Jennifer Hudson; Top 40 hit singer-songwriter Natalie MerchantAretha Franklin, Vanessa Williams, Trisha Yearwood, Ruben Blades, & DJ Logic among others. Sharel has also worked with NEA Jazz Masters Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jimmy Heath, and Christian McBride; she has also appeared as a guest soloist with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. As a bandleader, Sharel's five albums have received top-rated reviews in publications like the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, JazzTimes, Jazziz, Downbeat & American Indian News, & Saxophone Journal. Cassity runs her record label "Relsha Music" and directs the educational program "Jazz Up." 

A skilled and versatile sideman, Sharel is a current member of the Dizzy Gillespie Latin Experience and All-Star Big Band. She has also performed frequently alongside renowned Grammy-winning artists Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, Lewis Nash, Joe Chambers & Darcy James Argue. Sharel has toured 24 countries and performed at leading venues like the Newport Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival & the North Sea Jazz Festival. Additionally, Sharel was lead alto in the Diva Jazz Orchestra from 2007-2014 and performed in Wynton Marsalis' Broadway musical After Midnight. 

The Jazz Lab, led by Dr. Joseph L. Jefferson, Southeast Director of Jazz Studies and Associate Professor of Trombone/Euphonium, is comprised of both music and non-music majors, will be performing Crystal Cove, Emily, and Ace of Hearts.

The concert will close with the Studio Jazz, also under the direction of Dr. Jefferson. This jazz ensemble will perform Ordinary Deviation, Notorious R.B.G, Laced With Love, I’ll Be There, UMMMM, Mammoth Interruption, and Say What!?

Student soloists include Montana Chitwood (alto sax), Christopher Mosher (trumpet), Sarah Grosse (trumpet), Isaac Thorn (trombone), Sam Helle (trumpet), Ethan Brown (piano), Brendan Iverson (trombone), Emma Weller-Stilson (Piano) Holden Jennings (guitar) Zacharey Vandiver (tenor sax), Reed Broussard (drums), Seth Steelman (trombone) and Jonah McGuire (tenor sax) 


Tickets may be purchased by contacting the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Tickets for the Women in Jazz Gala Festival Concert can also be purchased online or by calling (573) 651-2265.